Curran on the spot to rescue a draw for Athlone

Ace marksman Enda Curran opened his goal account for Athlone Town last Friday night (August 4 ) as his penalty kick salvaged a point for the home side against bottom club Wexford FC at Lissywollen.

The visitors had taken the lead against the run of play just before the hour mark, but a penalty afforded Curran the opportunity to equalise with 10 minutes remaining. As a result, Athlone continue to remain a point ahead of Wexford on the league table, with just five games remaining.

With two wins and a draw already in 2017 against the bottom club, Athlone were confident of maintaining their unbeaten record. The Town, though, should have fallen behind within a minute of the game getting underway. Dean Kelly saw his shot blocked by goalkeeper Igors Labuts, and Thomas Croke somehow sent the rebound wide with the goal at his mercy.

On his debut, Ethan Nkololo sent in a low cross from the right which was just missed by Dragos Sfrijan, who had a further chance moments later. The home number seven was again out of luck after 20 minutes when he fired over following another right wing cross from Nkololo.

Aaron Dobbs then had a rare chance for Wexford, but as half time approached the woodwork intervened. After 43 minutes, a Curran strike following a Stephen Walsh free kick also rebounded off the upright, while in stoppage time Croke hit the Athlone bar with a headed effort.

The second half was dominated by Athlone, but Wexford still took the lead from their first chance following the resumption of play. Liam McCartan, Nkololo, Walsh, and Curran all had chances during Athlone's period of dominance, but the home side were caught out by a sucker punch just before the hour. Athlone were slow to close down an away attack just inside their own half, allowing Dobbs to set up Kelly on the right, who made no mistake with a low shot into the far corner of the net.

A win would have leapfrogged Wexford over Athlone at the bottom end of the table, but referee Paula Brady handed the hosts a lifeline with a late penalty. Peter Walsh had an immediate impact following his introduction as a substitute when he was fouled by Mikey Byrne. Curran stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with the resulting spot kick.

There was still time for further goalmouth action, and the woodwork again intervened to prevent Wexford from retaking the lead. Danny Doyle hit the bar with his shot after Labuts had advanced to narrow the angle. Athlone ended the game with 10 men when Niall Scullion picked up a second yellow card for obstructing an opponent, but Wexford were unable to take advantage and the spoils were shared on this occasion.

League action takes a break at the weekend when Athlone start their FAI Cup campaign with a potentially tricky away assignment in Cork against Munster Senior League outfit Ballincollig on Saturday, August 12.

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