Athlone Town ensure promotion momentum maintained with home league defeat of in form Bray Wanderers



John Dingle

Athlone Town maintained their promotion quest in Lissywollen on Friday night last defeating fellow in form team Bray Wanderers and in the process extending their points advantage over the Seagulls.

Athlone’s victory was merited, Wanderers conceding two carbon copy goals to the home team at the start of each half. Dean Ebbe was denied his hat trick when Bray goalkeeper Stephen McGuinness saved his penalty kick.

Athlone hit the front after just four minutes when Jamar Campion-Hinds sent in a ball from the right wing and top scorer Ebbe got in behind the away defence in the penalty area to steer his header over the on-rushing McGuinness into an empty net.

The Seagulls came close to equalising on 26 minutes. Cristian Magerusan burst between two Town defenders in the penalty box only his see his goal bound drive turned away by Enda Minogue. Bray again came close to an equaliser later in the half when Shane Griffin’s looping header found the top of the netting.

Just like in the opening half, the Town struck again early after the restart of play. Ten minutes into the half, Jarlath Jones played the ball over the top and with no offside flag forthcoming, Ebbe showed great finishing as he again lobbed the advancing McGuinness from the edge of the penalty area.

Three minutes after going further behind, Bray had a chance when Griffin charged down Minogue’s attempted clearance on the edge of the home penalty area. The Town keeper recovered from his initial error to block the follow up effort with a diving save.

Bray were finally rewarded for their efforts just after the hour mark as Griffin’s corner was met by Jamie Duggan who headed the ball back across goal. As Minogue was stranded having failed to punch clear, the ball dropped to Paul Murphy who fired to the net at the near post from inside the six-yard box.

Bray were now back in contention and had a chance to level matters after 64 minutes. Griffin’s free kick came to Harry Groome who set up Magerusan. From just outside the penalty area, the striker’s curling effort came back off the top of the crossbar.

Athlone survived and looked to have the opportunity to make the closing stages much more comfortable when they were awarded a penalty kick with a quarter of an hour remaining. Murphy turned from hero to villain as he was adjudged by referee Marc Lynch to have held back Carl Mujaguzi when he tried to turn and shoot. Ebbe stepped up to try and complete his hat trick, but the Bray custodian pulled off a good save to divert the ball over the bar with his legs and deny Ebbe going into double figures on the scoring chart.

It handed Bray a lifeline and renewed confidence that they could launch a comeback. Wanderers hit back with Magerusan heading into the side netting following Griffin’s free kick after 78 minutes.

It was as close as they came though as Athlone defended in depth to record their fifth win in six games.


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