Roddy Collins obviously loves a challenge and on his return as Athlone Town manager saw at first hand the major task he has agreed to undertake.
Cabinteely had not won in their seven previous outings, but had little difficulty in returning to winning ways with a comfortable victory at Stradbrook in Dublin last Saturday evening (May 20 ).
It was a surprise that the opening half was scoreless as the home side had a number of good chances to break the deadlock. The woodwork and a series of fine saves from visiting goalkeeper Igor Labuts denied Cabinteely the lead they deserved. The deadlock was finally broken just before the hour mark from the penalty spot, as Kieran Waters later completed his double with almost the last kick of the game deep into stoppage time.
Cabinteely earned the first corner kick after just five minutes with Labuts then making a good save, parrying a shot from Jack Watson. Conor Barry had the first chance for Athlone while Chris Rodrigues followed with a shot straight at goalkeeper Mick Kelly.
After 16 minutes the woodwork came to Athlone’s rescue. Waters set up Joe Doyle but his strike hit the underside of the bar and bounced clear. Jason Lyons then fired wide for The Town and a first corner followed on 20 minutes.
Cabinteely continued to carve out the better openings with Waters and Evan Galvin having further chances to open the scoring. The half ended, however, with Athlone still on level terms having rode their luck at times.
There was a further let-off for Collins’ men four minutes after the restart when the unmarked Evan Galvin somehow scooped the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy. Barry also fired just wide at the other end but the game turned in favour of the hosts when a penalty was awarded for a foul on Waters.
The striker recovered to take the spot kick which went straight down the middle into the net despite Labuts’ best attempts. Athlone had a great chance to level matters after 70 minutes but Ethan Keogh was denied by Kelly in what proved to be The Town’s last chance of scoring.
Joe Carmody came on to make his senior debut, but it was generally another outing to forget for Athlone. Doyle and Evan Galvin had further chances to increase the home lead, but as the game headed into stoppage time just a goal still separated the sides.
Waters sealed the victory with his second goal of the game from the last piece of goalmouth action. A simple tap in from a right wing cross propelled the Cabinteely striker to the top of the First Division scoring charts, as Collins was left to ponder on his immediate task of lifting morale in the Town camp.
Next up is a home game against UCD on Friday night (May 26 ), with The Students looking to get their promotion hopes back on track following a defeat to Cobh Ramblers.