Athlone Town claim the summit spot with merited Bray away day success

There is a three way tie at the top of the First Division table as Athlone and Shelbourne now join Bray Wanderers on the nine point mark. The Town ended the only hundred percent record in the League when they beat Bray at the Carlisle Grounds last Friday night. Aaron Brilly scored what proved to be the winner in the first half as Wanderers conceded a goal for the first time in over five hours of league action.

When the teams last met in the 2014 season, all three games ended in draws. Town manager Terry Butler would once more probably have settled for a point prior to taking on the table toppers.

The home team were first on the attack and forced the first corner kick in the second minute. Joe Doyle headed wide with Dean Williams also off target from the Towns first chance on 14 minutes. Bray had the better opportunities to open the scoring early on but poor finishing was to prove costly for the hosts.

Midway through the half, Luke Nolan should have opened the scoring but, after coming in at the back post, sent his shot over the bar. Athlone survived and earned two corners in quick succession with Kealan Dillon also having a shot saved. The Town midfielder was again off target soon after but the deadlock was finally broken after 31 minutes.

Good approach play in midfield saw the ball worked up to the edge of the penalty area. The pass picked out Brilly on the right edge of the six yard box. The Town captain celebrated his recall to the starting line up by shooting past the keeper’s right into the far corner of the net. It was the last goalmouth action of the half as Athlone carried their slender lead into the break.

Bray continued to frustrate their supporters when play resumed with further bad finishing. Athlone goalkeeper Aaron Myles also proved to be a thorn in their side.

McGlade fired wide from the first chance with Philip Gannon also off target. Athlone defended in depth and had few chances to add to their goal tally. A Darren Meenan corner which caused a scare in the Bray penalty area was one of the few times the Town were a danger. Myles then made a marvellous double save to prevent Bray from equalising.

A Richie Purdy free kick was parried by the keeper who then recovered to block a shot from Dylan Barnett who had latched onto the rebound. A further bad miss followed on 81 minutes when Dean O’Halloran somehow failed to finish off a cross.

With four minutes remaining, Bray earned their final corner of the game but once more O’Halloran failed to find the target. Substitute, Dean George might have sealed the away win late on but saw his shot blocked for a corner. Inevitably, when O’Halloran was handed the last chance to equalise the strike flew wide leaving Athlone to celebrate a second successive away win.

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