Athlone maintain unbeaten home record as Harps fail to play a tune in Lissywollen


John Dingle

Dean Ebbe grabbed what proved to be the winning goal after 24 minutes as Athlone Town shattered Finn Harps’ one hundred percent away record in Lissywollen on Friday night, the hosts, in the process, maintaining their positive home form with a well deserved win.

The Town found it easy during the early stages as high-flying Harps stood off and appeared content to defend in their own half. The first chance on six minutes should have led to the scoring being opened but Carl Mujaguzi blasted a first-time effort over the bar from a good position following a Brian Torre cross from the left.

The visitors were on a five-game unbeaten run going into the game but were off target from their first two attempts on goal. Success Edogun fired wide on 11 minutes with Harps captain Tony McNamee then drilling a free kick off target. There was little further action up to the midway point of the half but the Harps defence was undone just after the midway mark. Ruben Ferreira sent in a cross from the left to the far post. Amardo Oakley did well to keep possession and pulled the ball back for Ebbe to head past the keeper’s right from close range.

It was a shock for Harps but the response did not reflect a team looking to keep the pressure on unbeaten table toppers Cork City. Conor Tourish headed a free kick over while Ryan Rainey drilled a left footed effort straight at Town keeper Enda Minogue. Athlone had a couple of good opportunities to extend their slender lead before the half time break. Dan McKenna fired just wide and was again involved when his inviting cross was put over the bar by the away defence for the first corner kick of the contest.

Harps best chance of grabbing an equaliser came just before the hour mark but Minogue made a great block to deny Edogun scoring against his former club and keep Athlone in front. The hosts settled as Aaron Connolly fired off target and two more corners followed.

Athlone continued to push for a second insurance score. A corner kick was followed by Ebbe having a chance to grab his second goal following a Jamar Campion-Hinds right wing cross but goalkeeper Tim Hiemer made a good block. Further chances fell the Town’s way as Carl Mujaguzi had a header saved and Gideon Tetteh was off target with another headed effort.

The substitute had a further shot which stung the keeper’s hands as the ball was parried. Connolly then fired a first time strike wide of the target. Harps had shouts for a penalty kick on 84 minutes but the referee waived away the appeals.

The Town dealt with any danger posed while their last chance of adding to their tally came after 88 minutes. Ebbe set up Campion-Hinds but the finish from the substitute was poor. Harps earned their second and final corner in the penultimate minute and were unable to take advantage of the five additional minutes that were indicated.


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