Simple for Athlone as Simon on target in opening day league win


John Dingle

It has been a long wait for Athlone to record a League win but finally the Town collected full points when that beat Wexford FC by four goals to two last Friday night. The last time home fans had a victory to celebrate was May 2017 when Cobh Ramblers were the visitors.

Last season drew a complete blank but Terry Butler has now guided his team to two wins in the space of a week. A morale boosting success in the Leinster Cup against Dundalk got the campaign underway to be followed four days later by an opening day league triumph.

The sending off of Wexford striker Danny Furlong after just eight minutes proved crucial to the outcome of the game. Wexford had already taken an early lead but found it hard to maintain the momentum with ten men. Athlone took advantage as two goals in six minutes late in the second half sealed the home win.

Even with seven players making their league debut, the home side gelled well as a unit. It was Wexford though that struck first with just five minutes played. Jack Doherty passed to Emmet Nugent who found the net with a low shot.

Three minutes later and the visitors were reduced to ten men when experienced striker Danny Furlong saw red for a stamp on Ciaran Grogan. It would now be difficult for Wexford with at least 80 more minutes to play.

Athlone were soon taking advantage to level matters after 12 minutes. Kaleem Simon and Kealan Dillon combined to provide the opening for Dean Casey and the finish was neat. It stayed at one apiece until the break as Athlone struggled to further break down the visitors defence. Simon had a couple of chances with Dillon firing wide in the last action of the half.

Athlone continued to dominate when play resumed but, after taking the lead, granted Wexford a way back into the contest. With 54 minutes played, Darren Meenan set up Dean Williams who grabbed his second goal in as many games. The match winner against Dundalk now looked to have again set the Town on the road to victory.

Wexford however were allowed back into contention just two minutes later. A foul on Danny Doyle just inside the penalty box saw Doherty fire the resulting spot kick past Aaron Myles.

A third home corner kick after 70 minutes again saw Athlone back in front as Simon forced home the delivery from Meenan. The victory was sealed with a fourth home goal with 15 minutes remaining. Williams drew the goalkeeper to the edge of the penalty area. The ball was then squared to Dillon who fired into an unguarded net.

There were further opportunities for the hosts to increase their lead before full time. Simon and substitute Kyle Hogan both had chances but Wexford held out to keep the deficit at two goals. The final whistle was greeted with obvious glee as home fans at last had something to celebrate about.


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