Unbeaten league run stays intact as Athlone maintain premier position


Athlone Town remain unbeaten after ending Bray Wanderers unbeaten run at the Carlisle Grounds last Friday night.

The home team had drawn their three games and looked like denting the Town’s title aspirations when taking an early lead.

Athlone fought back with two quickfire goals from Kurtis Byrne with all the scores coming in the first 15 minutes. The win keeps Athlone on top as they maintain a two points advantage over capital clubs UCD and Shelbourne.

There was an early setback for Adrian Carberry’s men when Bray opened the scoring from their first attack. Seven minutes were played when Athlone failed to clear the danger from a right-wing cross. Dylan Barnett timed his run to perfection to send a well struck volley flying into the roof of the net.

The response came quickly as the game was tied up just two minutes later. Aidan Friel started the move down the right. Stephen Meaney and Adam Wixted then got involved and the latter’s low cross into the penalty area was touched home from close range by Byrne.

Athlone then took the lead after 14 minutes, Byrne once more on target after the ball was worked from left to right with Wixted again the provider.

Wixted was then presented with the chance to score himself but the opportunity was wasted. Bray had the better of exchanges up to half time, Brandon Kavanagh was off target, while Ryan Graydon was also out of luck from long range.

Athlone started the second half brightly but were soon in defensive mode as Bray went in search of an equaliser. Jamie Hollywood and James Doona had early chances for the visitors. The Town defence was holding firm but there were a few scares along the way before the win could be celebrated.

Kavanagh was denied by Micheal Schlingermann in the Town goal while Bray captain Aaron Barry was off target. The best chance of an equaliser came on 78 minutes but Luka Lovic somehow scooped a right-wing cross over the bar from close range.

Three corners followed in quick succession for the hosts but the Seagulls frustration grew. Substitute, Shane Barnes, was involved late on in a midfield clash that saw him cautioned and Graydon red carded as Bray ended the contest with 10 men.

There was a further fright for Athlone in the first of the five additional minutes. A late corner fell to Barry but the home skipper headed over.

Athlone still had time to seal the victory. Byrne had an earlier chance to record his hattrick but the last action of the game should have seen the Town captain claim the match ball. Doona set up the striker who was in front of the target but the finish was poor as the shot sailed over the bar. It did not prove to be costly however as the final whistle soon sounded to leave Athlone celebrating their third win in a row. The great start to the season continues for the Town.


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