Fleeting FAI Cup experience for Athlone Town as Derry City advance to second round


John Dingle

The draw for the FAI Cup handed Athlone Town a tough task as they were paired with the holders Derry City and Sunday’s tie at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium went according to plan as the Candystripes advanced with two goals in second half stoppage time putting a gloss on the home victory.

Although Athlone earned the first corner kick after seven minutes, Derry were the dominant force thereafter. Athlone were in defensive mode for most of the opening half as Jordan McEneff fired wide from Derry’s first chance. Town goalkeeper Enda Minogue then reacted well to collect a dangerous Will Patching cross from the left.

City opened the scoring midway through the half from the penalty spot when Brandon Kavanagh was fouled by Noah VanGeenen and Patching stepped up to fire the resulting spot kick to the net as Minogue dived the wrong way.

City did not add to their goal tally before the break but a Brandon Kavanagh shot from the right was pushed away by Minogue with the Town keeper again denying the City striker later in the half.

Athlone rarely threatened but could easily have levelled matters before the break. The visitors had a great chance to score after 38 minutes. Frantz Pierrot is in double goalscoring figures already this season but the Town’s top scorer could not add to his tally. From twelve yards range, the volley was off target as it cleared the bar. It was as close as Athlone came to creating a shock. City had the last chance of the first half through McEneff but Minogue was quickly out to gather.

Athlone had the first chance when play resumed but Pierrot again fired over. Thereafter, City keeper Tadhg Ryan was not troubled by the Town attack. Brandon Kavanagh then had a shot saved by Minogue as Athlone proved hard to overcome, defending bravely for the remainder of the half.

Five corners were to follow for City but Athlone held firm. The First Division outfit became a bit more adventurous in the closing stages as they tried to send the tie into extra time.

Instead, City struck twice more in stoppage time. A corner in the first additional minute was followed by a late second home goal. Five additional minutes were indicated and the lead was doubled on 93 minutes as Brandon Kavanagh made the most of space afforded him to shoot to the net past the keeper’s right.

That ended the cup tie as a contest but there was still time for City to strike for a third time. The fifth additional minute saw substitute Michael Duffy head home as City pressure was finally rewarded on the scoreboard. It put some gloss on the home performance but it was tough on the Town.

There was just enough time for Athlone to restart before the final whistle sounded. Derry are in the hat for the second round draw and a further step nearer to successfully defending their title.


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