Heavy defeat for Athlone in Midland derby

Longford Town won the first Midlands derby of 2018 with a 5-1 trouncing of Athlone Town at the City Calling Stadium last Saturday evening (March 24 ).

The visitors had taken an early lead but were still behind at half-time, as Longford struck three times. Two further goals followed during the second half as Athlone's away day blues continued. Fifteen goals have now been conceded by Aaron Callaghan’s men on their travels. No points from five outings leaves Athlone still rooted to the foot of the table.

There was a surprise opening to the game with Athlone taking the lead inside the first minute. A poor headed clearance from Mick McDonnell only reached Rory McCullough, who fired to the net.

It may have been the goal of the game but was mere consolation for the visitors at the finish. Neale Fenn's men recovered to dominate proceedings thereafter and were soon on level terms. Chris Mulhall made it four goals scored in as many games. Shane Elworthy's cross fell to the home striker and although the first shot was blocked the follow up effort found the net.

Dean Byrne should have put the home team ahead, but shot into the side netting when facing an unguarded goal. Byrne quickly made amends though to fire Longford in front with a good finish past Sean O’Donnell. The Athlone keeper then kept Longford at bay, but was again beaten just before the break. Jake O’Connor could only head the ball into Mulhall's path and the simple tap left it 3-1 at half-time.

Longford totally dominated the second half. Mulhall and Byrne should easily have completed a hat-trick as the Athlone defence was torn asunder. Mulhall saw a shot cleared off the line by Cormac Raftery, but the lead was increased after 58 minutes. Karl Chambers sent in a cross which hit the post but Mulhall was on hand to head home from close range.

The chances continued to fall for Byrne and Mulhall as home goalkeeper Mick Kelly was hardly tested at the other end. It was a surprise that the home side did not greatly add to their goal tally, such was their dominance. A mistake from Raftery should have led to Karl Chambers scoring as Athlone turned in an embarrassing performance.

The scoring was completed after 74 minutes. The visitors were again badly exposed and Evan Galvin took advantage to fire home with a crisp left footed volley from the edge of the penalty box. Athlone made it to full-time without further conceding, although Byrne fired wide from a good position late on. Home substitute Jamie Hollywood had the last chance in stoppage time when firing wide.

Athlone did not enjoy any better luck In the EA Sports Cup on Tuesday night (March 27 ), as goals in each half steered UCD into the next round against Bohemians.

Athlone are again at home when they play Finn Harps on Good Friday.

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