Stalemate ensues as Athlone Town strive for first league victory



John Dingle

Athlone Town gained their first point at home this season when they played out a six-goal thriller with Drogheda United last Friday night.

The hosts twice held the lead but the visitors looked to have completed a comeback when scoring from the penalty spot late on. Athlone salvaged a point in the penultimate minute when Ronan Manning was also successful from the spot.

Second placed Drogheda were hoping to keep the pressure on table toppers Cabinteely and had the early chances. Athlone survived the pressure and remarkably opened the scoring midway through the half.

The Drogs conceded a free kick inside their own half. David Brookes delivered the ball which fell to Manning who fired a low shot to the net. The lead could easily have been increased as the half progressed. Jack Reynolds shot over the bar while home debutant Lee Duffy had a long-range attempt saved.

Manning and Darren Meenan had further chances but Drogheda got a lucky break to be back on level terms just before half time, Jake Hyland's shot coming back off the bar to strike an Athlone player and roll over the line. It handed Drogheda a lifeline for the second half.

First chance on the resumption of play saw the Town again go back in front after 54 minutes play, Duffy scoring a fine individual effort when cutting in from the right and drawing the keeper before shooting to the net.

The lead was short-lived as United were again back on level terms four minutes later. A right-wing cross caught out the home defence and Brandon Birmingham was on hand to punish the slip up and score. Town substitute, Adam Lennon, had a couple of chances following his introduction with Duffy also missing a good chance after 71 minutes.

Jordan Adeyemo was brought on by Drogheda and was fouled inside the penalty box after 83 minutes. Another sub Chris Lyons sent Aaron Myles the wrong way with the resulting spot kick.

Athlone never gave up and were eventually rewarded in the penultimate minute. It was Drogheda’s turn to concede a penalty and Manning made no mistake with a well struck effort past the keeper.

Athlone might have claimed all three points deep into stoppage time. A free kick from the right by Brookes flew across the United box without getting a goalbound touch. Athlone celebrated earning their first home point having dented Drogheda’s title push in the process.

Away day blues

It was quickly back to earth though for the Town on Monday night when they returned home from the UCD Bowl empty handed.

Athlone should have claimed a first win of 2020 but failed miserably even though they enjoyed a numerical advantage for the second half.

Lee Duffy fired the visitors in front after 20 minutes and it looked bleak for the students when they lost Michael Gallagher to a red card just before the break.

A penalty from Yoyo Mahdy levelled matters in stoppage time, but College struck for the winner through Mahdy after 72 minutes.


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