Bleak weekend for Athlone with two home defeats

It proved to be a bleak weekend for struggling Athlone Town, who were beaten twice at home in the space of just four days.

UCD were first to visit last Friday night (March 16 ), with The Students winning by three goals to one. Cabinteely were next on Monday afternoon (March 19 ), and the outcome was the same, although the winning margin was just a single goal on this occasion.

Both games were scoreless in the opening half, with all the goals coming after the half-time interval on each occasion. UCD were on top in the opening stages, with Town goalkeeper Nathan Murphy making a number of fine saves. Athlone created little in the way of goal scoring chances, with Tzee Mustapha and Etanda Nkololo most prominent for the home side.

The second half was less than five minutes old when The Students broke the deadlock, Georgie Kelly with a neat finish from a dangerous ball played in from the left.

Nkololo then missed a chance for Athlone, and UCD doubled their lead with 15 minutes remaining. Kelly grabbed his second with a shot to the net under the keeper. The UCD striker might have completed his hat-trick late on, but rattled the crossbar instead.

Athlone struck back in the penultimate minute to raise hopes of a grandstand finish. Substitute Ollie Hamzat made a good run down the wing and then squared the ball to Ger Smith, who converted from close range.

The celebrations were short-lived, however, as UCD restored their two goal advantage two minutes into stoppage time. Yoyo Mahdy completed the scoring.

Next up were Cabinteely, with the bottom of the table clash going ahead after the pitch survived an early morning inspection. Both teams had yet to register a point prior to kick-off.

Town manager Aaron Callaghan was forced to name midfielder Luke Kelly in goal as regular keeper Murphy was injured. The stand in custodian was soon in action, saving a shot from Kaleem Simon. Kieran Waters had a further good chance for Cabinteely, but half-time arrived without a goal.

The opening score arrived early in the second half when Conor Keeley got his head to a corner kick for a precious away goal.

The home team fought back and were on level terms with 66 minutes played. A corner kick from Felix Perez was directed past the keeper by Jake O’Connor.

Athlone, though, were denied a point when Cabinteely struck for the winning goal moments later. A rocket from Joe Doyle gave Kelly no chance. Cabinteely could have added to their tally late on but had to settle for a narrow win. Athlone are now firmly rooted to the foot of the table.

Callaghan’s men have little time to feel down as they must next face Longford Town in the first Midlands derby of the season at City Calling Stadium. The home side beat Athlone four times last season and will again be confident of claiming full points.

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