In an all First Division clash in the first round of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup, Shelbourne got the better of Athlone Town at Tolka Park last Friday night.
Struggling Athlone, who are bottom of the table and without a win this season, battled hard in the opening half but didn’t create anything to seriously trouble Shelbourne goalkeeper Dean Delany. The Midlanders are now 41 games without a win as their miserable campaign in 2018 draws to a close.
In a poor first half, Shels had the better of the few chances created. Greg Moorehouse headed over the bar after eight minutes, while Derek Prendergast had a free header at the far post in the 27th minute. The attempt though from the former Athlone defender had too much power on it and went wide of the target.
It looked like Athlone would head off for the break still on level terms but found themselves trailing by a goal scored five minutes from the break. The Town have scored a number of unfortunate own goals in recent games and the pattern continued when Nika Kalandarishvili turned the ball into his own net. A free kick taken by Lorcan Fitzgerald fell to Paddy Kavanagh and his goal bound effort came off the unlucky Athlone midfielder. Shels were fortunate to have the lead when the half time whistle sounded.
The visitors were still optimistic of springing a shock when play resumed having been boosted by their handling of high flying opponents in the first half. It was all to end on a sad note though as the Reds ran in three more goals to advance comfortably to an away tie against Longford.
Kavanagh was proving lively for Shels and he doubled their advantage just after the hour mark when he finished Karl Moore’s pin point accurate cross to the net. It proved to be the key moment while ending the Town's challenge.
In the 73rd minute, Adam Evans’ got onto the end of a cross from James English but his shot just went narrowly wide as the home side pressed for more goals. It was all one way traffic at this stage, going the home side’s way, as Athlone couldn’t find a pathway to get back into the game.
Two Shelbourne substitutes combined in the 84th minute for their third goal. Shane Farrell played the ball to Dayle Rooney and his low cross found Moorehouse who made no mistake from close range. The home changes were having the desired effect and Farrell set up Moorehouse minutes later but his strike was deflected out for a corner kick.
As full time approached, Karl Moore’s shot just went inches wide of the post as the Reds continued on the offensive. A fourth goal duly arrived in stoppage time. Fitzgerald grabbed another goal with a sweet finish past Darcy Lawless after being played in by Moore. The final score line was a little harsh on the Town but Shelbourne eventually proved too strong in the second half.