Precious points cement Athlone Town’s play-off position as league journey continues


John Dingle

Athlone Town returned to winning ways with a fine victory over Waterford in the RSC on Friday last night - all three goals arrived in the opening stages with the scoring completed by the midway point of the first half.

Waterford had started brightly with Darragh Power finding space for himself down the right wing on five minutes, but his effort was well kept out by Town keeper Enda Minogue. The Blues were dominating the opening stages and should have broken the deadlock after 10 minutes, but the in rushing Power saw his close-range effort strike the top of the crossbar.

Frantz Pierrot had Athlone’s first attempt with 13 minutes played when he fired in a shot from outside the penalty area that was touched around the post. From the resulting corner kick, the visitors took the lead, when the home custodian came but failed to gather and Dylan Gavin did well to finish from close-range to punish the poor defending.

The lead was short lived though as the Blues were back on level terms two minutes later. Dean McMenamy on the right-side touched the ball into the path of Roland Idowu who powered a left-footed effort from 25-yards past Minogue.

Once more though the lead was over turned. Amazingly, Athlone were back in front from the restart of play when a Blues attack down the left broke down. Oisin Duffy gained possession and he sent in a right-wing cross that was headed back across goal by Valerii Dolia, the advancing Pierrot hammering a right-footed effort from 14 yards range past a helpless Sam Sargeant. It completed the scoring in the game.

It was a combination of a stunning save and the upright that denied the hosts an equalising goal after 20 minutes. McMenamy’s left-footed strike was brilliantly tipped by Minogue onto the upright. Pierrot did have the ball in the back of the Waterford net again just before the half hour mark but the referee judged that a home defender had been fouled in the move. There was a chance for Cameron Cresswell to level the contest two minutes before the half-time break but the ball went wide of the far post.

Athlone held the lead in the early stages of the second half but a neat Blues move should have yielded the equalising goal on the hour mark, but resswell hooked a shot from inside the six-yard box over the bar. The visitors had few chances to increase their lead as they concentrated on keeping Keith Long’s men at bay.

Dolia was off target after latching onto a through ball from Pierrot. Cresswell had broken Athlone hearts with a stoppage time equaliser the last time the teams met and threatened to repeat the dose in the final minute, but his shot from inside the penalty area was parried by Minogue who then recovered to bravely gather the loose ball at the feet of the in-rushing substitute Serge Atakayi.

It was as close as Waterford came to collecting a point as Athlone held out for a precious win.


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