FAI Cup woe for Athlone Town as Drogheda United put end to season silverware aspirations



There was no giant killing act in the FAI Cup as Athlone Town made an early exit when Drogheda United eased into the next round at Head in the Game Park last Friday night.

The Premier Division outfit took an early lead and killed off the tie with two more goals just before the half time break. The five goal rout was completed midway through the second half as Athlone grabbed a consolation score through substitute Matthew McCarrick.

Drogheda never looked back after taking the lead with just seven minutes played. Gary Deegan played the ball in to the penalty area and Adam Foley got ahead of goalkeeper Vlad Velikin to head the ball to the net. It was soon to get worse for the hapless Town custodian. Four corner kicks were earned by the hosts with Dayle Rooney and Darragh Nugent off target with shots.

Athlone’s first chance came after 40 minutes when Adam Lennon showed some nice skill on the right but an inviting cross came to nothing. The lead was doubled moments later in extraordinary circumstances. Velikin rolled the ball out but Dean Williams was lurking and nipped in to take possession and guide the ball to an unguarded net.

In spite of this setback, Athlone had a great chance to reduce the deficit a minute before the break. Lennon saw his shot to the near post pushed behind by the keeper for the first corner to the visitors with a second soon following. The tie was ended though as a contest during stoppage time when Darragh Markey made it three, shooting past the keeper’s right from just inside the penalty area. Athlone’s dreams of an upset were now over.

Corners were exchanged when play resumed but Athlone again gifted the home team a fourth goal on 55 minutes. Velikin was again guilty as he cleared the ball off Markey and Williams was on hand to slot in his second goal of the game.

Athlone responded just before the hour mark when Aaron McBride headed wide following a corner kick. Drogheda pushed for more goals as a shot from substitute Chris Lyons was blocked by the keeper and a follow up effort was headed off the goal line. Dylan Grimes also fired over with Lyons again denied by Velikin.

Town top scorer Thomas Oluwa pitched in with a dangerous cross from the left. Drogheda did make it five midway through the half when substitute Ryan Brennan headed home a left wing cross. It surprisingly completed the total for the home team. They still had a few more chances as Rooney fired a free kick over and Markey shot off the bar from the left.

Athlone never gave up and grabbed a consolation goal on 84 minutes, Shane Barnes setting up McCarrick who planted a low shot to the net for his first senior goal. The Town had a couple more chances to further reduce the deficit, but Gary Armstrong shot wide and McCarrick was also off target when in pursuit of a second goal.


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