Silverware double aspirations remain as Athlone Town women account for Wexford Youths

ATHLONE TOWN 2 WEXFORD YOUTHS 1

Athlone Town players, including Jessica Hennessy, right and Kayleigh Shine (number 3), celebrate their side’s second goal, scored by Gillian Keenan during the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League match between Athlone Town and Wexford Youths at Athlone Town Stadium in Westmeath. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Athlone Town players, including Jessica Hennessy, right and Kayleigh Shine (number 3), celebrate their side’s second goal, scored by Gillian Keenan during the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League match between Athlone Town and Wexford Youths at Athlone Town Stadium in Westmeath. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

A week after knocking the holders out of the FAI Cup, Athlone Town women’s team put another dent in the chances of Wexford Youths winning silverware in 2022.

The table toppers took an early lead from the penalty spot but the hosts equalised midway through the opening half. Wexford then looked set to return home with a precious point but Tommy Hewitt’s charges struck for the winner late on.

In front of Ireland manager Vera Pauw, Wexford knew a win would shatter the Town’s chances of a league and cup double. The visitors were six points ahead and with four games remaining, Athlone needed to at least avoid defeat to keep their dreams alive. Their prospects looked bleak when Wexford opened the scoring after just eight minutes play. A series of corner kicks had Athlone under pressure as Roisin Molloy was penalised for a foul inside the penalty area and also picking up a yellow card. Town keeper Niamh Coombes dived the right way but was unable to prevent Aoibheann Clancy from slotting home from the spot.

Athlone recovered from this early setback and levelled matters after 21 minutes. A low cross from the right created the opening as Kellie Brennan fired to the roof of the net after the ball was blocked by Wexford. Gillian Keenan then had a chance to put the Town in front while Maddie Gibson had the last chances of the half. The previous week’s hat trick hero though was off target with two attempts on goal.

Becky Watkins had the first chance when play resumed as Wexford looked to retake the lead. Gibson had a further chance for the home team as a cautious second half unfolded. Coombes was commanding between the posts for Athlone and was alert to the away danger when advancing to gather just after the hour mark. Clancy and Gibson were both off target at either end as the game appeared set to end in stalemate.

Emily Corbet was sprung from the substitutes bench late on and had an immediate impact on the game, the striker earned the corner kick from which Athlone struck for the winner. Kayleigh Shine delivered the corner and Keenan met the ball in the air to head home.

There was no response from the shattered league leaders during the closing stages. Athlone could have added to their goal tally as Molloy fired wide and two late corners kept up the home pressure. There was some concern when the added time stretched beyond the indicated three minutes but Athlone held firm during this period. A first ever League win over Wexford was soon being celebrated with Athlone still in pursuit of a dream double.

Wexford retain their lead but are now just a single point ahead of Shelbourne. Both Athlone and Peamount United are a further two points adrift in what is a four-team title race. Athlone are now very much in contention and with an easier run in than their rivals will fancy their chances.

 

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