The third and final series of games in the 2018 First Division season got underway last weekend when Athlone Town travelled to take on Galway United last Friday night.
The season had started for the Midlanders back in February with a four one defeat at Eamonn Deacy Park. Eighteen games later and United repeated the dose for their first win in seven games. Former Athlone player Conor Barry opened the scoring after 20 minutes with Carlton Ubaezuonu adding a second just before the half time break. Athlone's Steve Grogan blasted a penalty kick over the bar early in the second half with late goals from Eoin McCormack and Ronan Manning sealing victory for Galway.
All time record goal scorer for the club, Alan Murphy had taken over as manager in Galway and got an immediate response from his team. The scoring should have been opened inside the first minute but United captain Ryan Connolly headed wide from a good position.
Ger Smith then cleared a shot from Ubaezuonu off the line for the first home corner kick, which went into double figures by half time. Athlone's first chance of the game after 14 minute saw Tzee Mustapha almost get a goal bound touch on an inviting cross from Brian Cabraley.
Galway hit the front when Barry gained possession just inside the Town half and fired to the net from twenty five yards range. Galway pressed for more goals as Athlone struggled to get into the game. Town keeper Darcy Lawless twice denied Ubaezuonu while Cabraley had another Athlone chance after 37 minutes but his opportunistic strike flew wide. The half time lead looked set to be just a single score but poor defending in the final minute saw Ubaezuonu poke home from close range following a Connolly free kick.
A double substitution from Athlone at the break saw George Mukete and debutant Ciaran Burns introduced. The visitors had a great chance to reduce the deficit when Gary Shanahan was penalised for a push inside the box. Steven Grogan took responsibility for the resulting spot kick but blasted the ball over the bar.
Galway were not quite as impressive after the break but nevertheless Conor Layng and Barry both came close to increasing the home lead. Athlones best period midway through the half saw Mukete come close as Galway relaxed somewhat.
The Town revival was halted when United made it three nil with ten minutes remaining, McCormack flicking Marc Ludden’s left wing cross past the helpless Lawless. Goal number four for Galway came on 88 minutes when substitute Manning celebrated his introduction with a neat finish.
Athlone grabbed a consolation score in the final minute. Ian Fletcher's cross from the right fell to Nika Kalandarishvili and, in a crowded penalty box, his shot took a deflection to fly into the net. It was the first goal scored by Athlone in five games and only their third away from home in 2018.
Next up for Athlone is a home game against Cabinteely.