Three heavy defeats in the space of a week has brought Athlone Town swiftly back to earth after a home draw with Midland rivals Longford Town had given hope that Terry Butlers men had turned a corner. Two four nil defeats over the June bank holiday weekend against Finn Harps and Cabinteely was followed by a five nil thrashing by Shelbourne last Friday night (June 8 ).
Although there was just a goal between the teams at half/time, three quick fire scores following the resumption of play had the game over as a contest. A fifth goal before the finish completed a bad night for the Town.
The home team were competitive only for the opening half an hour. Shelbourne earned the first corner kick on four minutes with Dayle Rooney then having two chances, both free kicks.
Athlone’s first chance after 15 minutes saw a shot from Ollie Hamzat tipped behind for a corner. David O’Sullivan has punished Athlone in the past and came close on two occasions to handing the Reds the lead. New signing Sodiq Oguntola then had the opportunity to celebrate his return to the Town colours. His shot though on the turn was saved by goalkeeper Dean Delaney.
Shelbourne opened the scoring on 33 minutes from a free kick. A push on the edge of the penalty afforded Cian Kavanagh the opportunity to line up a strike. Home keeper Mick Fogarty looked to have the shot covered but the ball somehow ended up in the net. Gavin Boyne ended the action in the half by firing wide.
Athlone still had a chance when only a goal in arrears but, not for the first time this season, it was all over as a contest by the hour mark. The home team did have a good opportunity to draw level early in the half. Ryan Gaffey’s free kick was heading goalwards but Delaney did well to push the ball away from danger.
The lead was doubled after 50 minutes when O’Sullivan headed home from close range following Reece McEnteers left wing cross. It was soon three nil when O’Sullivan grabbed his second of the game. James English was the provider with the Shels top scorer firing across Fogarty to the far corner of the net.
It soon got worse with a fourth goal just before the 60 minute mark. Fogarty made a mess of a back pass allowing Rooney to capitalise on the poor clearance and find the net. The Shelbourne pressure eased a little thereafter, but Athlone never looked like even grabbing a consolation score. The only immediate response was with a corner but Owen Heary’s men completed the rout after 77 minutes.
O’Sullivan linked up with Rooney and with a cross looking the more likely option, it was a surprise when the strike from the latter found the net past a static Fogarty. Three corner kicks were earned in the last five minutes by Athlone but the meanest defence in the division was never likely to be breached.