Athlone Town duly maintain play-off position despite home league loss to Bray Wanderers




Athlone Town slumped to a third successive defeat on Friday night last as Bray Wanderers grabbed the win they needed to keep alive their faint hopes of making the end of season play-offs.

A victory was essential for the visitors and Conor Knight's goal midway through the first half proved to be a winning one for them.

It had all started positively for Athlone, the home team having a great chance to open the scoring from the first attack of the game with just four minutes played. However, Jack Kavanagh's free kick from the right was headed off the bar by Dylan Gavin.

Bray earned the first corner kick on 10 minutes but there was little further goalmouth action until the only goal was scored after 24 minutes. Callum Thompson played a crisp pass to Harry Groome down the left. Athlone had a number of chances to clear the danger before the cross was sent in and Knight took advantage of the sloppy defending to force the ball home from close range.

Darren Craven then drilled a free kick wide but Athlone finished the half the more likely team to score. The accuracy though was not of the required standard as a series of goal attempts flew wide. Rodriguez started by sending a long-range volley over with Frantz Pierrot also off target with his attempt. Jamar Campion Hinds was unsuccessful too when clearing the bar with a shot while a right-wing cross from the winger was collected by Matt Connor. Gavin ended the action in the opening half with a chance following a throw in.

Athlone restarted in confident mood and should have been back on level terms by the hour mark. Connor again collected a Campion Hinds cross from the right in the first action of the half but several more chances were to follow. Gavin then headed over as the home team looked to grab an equaliser. A scramble in the penalty area saw the ball cleared behind for Athlone's first corner.

Town top scorer Pierrot had a good chance after 50 minutes but shot wide from close range. Patrick Hickey was then wide from Kavanagh's left wing cross as still Bray stood firm. Two more home corners were earned as what appeared to be the inevitable equaliser drew ever closer.

Bray should finally have been undone on the hour mark. Hickey set up Pierrot but Connor pulled off a great save to block the ball behind for a corner. It was as close as Athlone came to levelling matters.

Bray's Craven somehow fired over at the back post when it looked easier to score. Goalkeeper Minogue stopped Wanderers from doubling their lead on 75 minutes when he pushed behind an effort from Lyons. Another chance fell to Lyons on 87 minutes but once more Minogue denied the striker.

Four additional minutes were indicated and in that time a corner kick saw Pierrot then have the opportunity to rescue a point but the ball was not forced home to end the Town's hopes.


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