Top beat bottom at the UCD Bowl last Friday night (May 18 ) as The Students returned to winning ways against struggling Athlone Town.
The 3-0 final score somewhat flattered the home team, as two late goals put the gloss on the UCD performance. Athlone had two good chances to score in the opening half, but the lack of a proven goal scorer was again obvious. The Town have now failed to find the net in four games and the acquisition of a striker is manager Terry Butler’s top priority.
The first chance fell to UCDs top scorer, Georgie Kelly, from a Conor Crowley pass, with Timmy Molloy then heading wide for the hosts.
From their first attack, Athlone should have opened the scoring through Ollie Hamzat. The striker did well to manoeuvre his way into the penalty area but, with only the goalkeeper to beat, fired over the bar.
Kelly had another good chance at the other end but, as Darcy Lawless advanced off his line, the ball was lifted over the bar from 12 yards range.
Another great opportunity fell Athlone’s way on 18 minutes when, this time, Hamzat set up Brian Cabraley on the left. The finish was poor, though, as the shot went across the goal and wide.
Midway through the half, Athlone’s Tzee Mustapha headed over a Ryan Gaffey left wing cross. Gary O’Neill and Daire O’Connor were also off target for College.
The opening goal eventually arrived five minutes from the half-time break. A left wing cross fell to Jason McClelland, whose shot came off the underside of the bar. Athlone failed to clear the loose ball to safety, and Kelly pounced to find the net from close range. The last chance of the half fell to Cabraley in stoppage time, but he blasted a free kick from the right over the bar.
The second half was slow to come to life, with Athlone having the first chance after the hour mark, when Cabraley sent another free kick straight at the home keeper.
The final outcome was still in doubt right into the closing moments, with just a goal between the sides. McClelland’s shot for The Students was put behind for a corner, with Lawless also denying Kelly. Athlone had few chances to mount a serious attack and earned their only corner kick of the game with five minutes left.
The home team secured full points with two further goals in the closing stages. An Athlone free kick broke down, and UCD launched a quick counter attack. O’Connor in midfield set up McClelland, who finished with ease.
UCD put the gloss on the score with their third goal in the second additional minute. O’Connor, from the right of the penalty area, fired an unstoppable volley to the roof of the net.
Athlone deserved better, but those bad misses in the opening half were costly.
Athlone are next in action when they welcome back Longford Town for the second Midlands derby of the season.