Athlone Town have one final chance to record a win this year when they complete their First Division campaign on Friday night. A dreadful season on the field ends with a visit to Ferrycarrig Park where fellow strugglers Wexford FC provide the opposition in a bottom of the table clash.
The Town have remained rooted to the foot of the table since the opening day defeat in Galway with just four points gained to date. There has been a revival of sorts though in the last two outings with decent draws against Cobh Ramblers and Shelbourne. The point secured at home to Ramblers saw Terry Butler’s men keep their first clean sheet of the season.
Their last outing, which saw Shels provide the opposition at Tolka Park, also ended all square. The hosts looked set to collect all three points when they held a two goal lead at the half time break. However, an amazing turnaround in fortunes following the resumption of play saw Athlone claim their first away point in over a year. Goals from Ian Fletcher and Ollie Hamzat levelled matters to shock the play off chasing Reds. The last time the Town had avoided defeat on their travels was back in June 2017 when the spoils were shared in Wexford.
The two previous meetings between the teams have ended in victories for Wexford, although one of these was overturned off the field. The first game in April saw Wexford put seven past the Town which was another nail in the coffin of then manager Aaron Callaghan. It proved to be the only time this season that home supporters would celebrate a win however.
The next meeting saw Athlone act as hosts at the end of June and once more Wexford won out, this time a single score proving sufficient. However the result was over ruled in the corridors of power when it emerged that the visitors had included a player that was on the suspension list.
Thomas Croke came on as a second half substitute, which was surprising as he had earlier been on the communication from the FAI outlining the players suspended. As a result, Wexford forfeited the points with Athlone now credited with a three nil win and the three points.
It was rough justice on Damien Locke’s men who had been full value for the victory on the field of play. The Wexford manager was soon to be relieved of his responsibilities as the fallout from the administrative error rumbled on. There has been little change in luck for the South East outfit since then with no win in all competitions over nine outings.
The short break from competitive action since the Tolka Park draw has allowed Butler’s charges to regroup and focus thoroughly on the task in hand. An unbeaten run, albeit only two games, will have boosted confidence and with Wexford on a poor run of results it gives Athlone a great chance of finally getting a long overdue win in 2018.