Despite strong second half comeback, Athlone Town failed to grab an equaliser

WATERFORD FC 4 ATHLONE TOWN 3

A seven-goal thriller saw Athlone Town fight back from being four goals down at half time to reduce the deficit to just a single score by the final whistle. Waterford striker Ronan Coughlan scored all four goals in the opening half as the home team looked set for an easy victory. Patrick Hickeys goal early in the second half was a start and two more goals left the closing stages much more interesting. Athlone could not grab an equaliser to complete an amazing comeback.

Waterford dominated the opening half to head off for the break with a comfortable lead. Two early corner kicks were earned by the home team. Athlone did respond and soon levelled up the corner count. It was the only highlight for the visitors in the opening half. Shane Griffin sent in a cross from the right and Coughlan headed home with 9 minutes played. Athlone were almost caught out again after 20 minutes when Coughlan turned provider to set up Griffin whose shot was blocked. Athlone gifted the Blues their second score on 27 minutes. Noah Van Geenen played the ball across the penalty area to Coughlan who made the most of his good fortune with a shot to the roof of the net. It got worse for the visitors after 38 minutes as more defensive slackness allowed Coughlan to claim his hat trick. The game looked over as a contest 2 minutes later when Coughlan grabbed his fourth goal. Coughlan had the opportunity to grab goal number five from the last action of the half but Athlone survived.

The second half saw Athlone mount a remarkable comeback. From being seemingly dead and buried earlier, the visitors fought back. The bare look was taken off the scoreboard on 53 minutes. A corner kick saw Hickey head home. Two minutes later and the lead was halved. Frantz Pierrot was fouled and sent the keeper the wrong way from the resulting spot kick. Jamar Campion Hinds had a shot saved on the hour mark as most of the danger was now coming from the visitors. Athlone reduced the deficit to the bare minimum on 69 minutes. Pierrot was fouled on the right edge of the penalty area to earn the Town a free kick. Valerii Dolias strike was of the highest order as the ball entered the net between Paul Martin and his post. It had Athlone dreaming of an amazing comeback, especially with over 20 minutes still to play. Unfortunately for Gordon Brett’s men, it proved to be their last score as Waterford regained their composure for the closing stages. The game ended tamely and Athlone’s only chance of levelling came on 74 minutes from a corner kick. Waterford had a few chances to grab a fifth goal. Substitute Chris Conn-Clarke’s cross from the left was palmed away by Enda Minogue with two further home corners easily dealt with by the Town defence. Four additional minutes were played but the goal fest had dried up by this stage.

 

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