For the second time in five days Athlone Town conceded four goals, as UCD inflicted the damage at the Belfield Bowl last Saturday night (April 8 ).
An EA Sports Cup defeat against Longford earlier in the week had seen Ricardo Monsanto’s men come out on the wrong end of a seven-goal thriller, but this latest defeat in Dublin was more comprehensive.
The visitors went behind from the first UCD attack with less than two minutes played. Greg Sloggett set up Gary O’Neill on the edge of the penalty area and the UCD captain drilled a low shot between Igor Labuts and his near post.
Athlone responded in positive fashion and were back on level terms after 10 minutes. A shot from Jason Lyons on the right took a deflection off full back Evan Osam to wrong-foot the UCD goalkeeper.
A lively opening half continued with chances at either end, but the Students regained the lead with half an hour played. O’Neill was the provider this time as his left wing cross from the end line was not dealt with by the Athlone defence, and substitute Daire O’Connor was in quickly to fire home from close range.
The sides went in at the break with UCD leading 1-2, but things got worse for the Town on the resumption of play. UCD struck again after 64 minutes when Georgie Kelly grabbed the first of his two goals. Goalkeeper Labuts advanced to the edge of the penalty box in a vain attempt to intercept a long ball forward, with Kelly lifting the ball over him and into the empty net.
The home side appeared to have the points secured but goalkeeper Niall Corbet did well soon after to block a shot from Town substitute Ethan Keogh, who was looking to reduce the deficit and make the closing stages more interesting. Thus ended the challenge from Athlone as UCD finished the half the stronger team.
In their previous league outing against Cabinteely, Athlone used the time added on to stage a remarkable comeback and snatch a draw, but there was no such luck on this occasion.
Kelly, Jason McClelland, and O’Connor all had chances to increase the lead, with a fourth goal eventually arriving in stoppage time. Once more the damage was self-inflicted as the visitors lost possession in midfield allowing Kelly to race clear. The number nine delivered a low finish to the net, ending the scoring for the home side.
The second series of games commences at the weekend when Athlone travel to Waterford, with the current table-toppers anxious to gain revenge for a surprise opening-day defeat.