Away day blues as Athlone Town suffer Limerick loss


John Dingle

Athlone Town lost their one hundred percent away record last Friday night in the Markets Field. Having already beaten Cobh Ramblers and Bray Wanderers on their travels, Terry Butler’s men were looking to make it a hat trick of away wins, this time against Limerick FC. The hosts had been relegated last season but look set to challenge for a quick return to the top flight. A Shane Tracy goal from a free kick in the first half opened the scoring with the home victory sealed late on through Connor Ellis.

Former Town player Jason Hughes was prominent in the early stages for Limerick with Robbie Williams having a shot blocked behind for the first corner kick of the game. The lively opening faded somewhat with little further action towards the midway point of the opening half. Athlone’s best chance came with 26 minutes played. Kaleem Simon was prominent in the build up to set up Kyle Hogan who had been recalled to the starting eleven. The opportunity to open the scoring was wasted though with the right footed shot going wide.

The deadlock was soon broken as Limerick went ahead after 31 minutes. Athlone conceded a free kick on the stand side. Tracy took responsibility and surprised most in the ground when his strike flew into the net. A crowded penalty area seemed to distract Aaron Myles as the ball nestled in the net past the bemused goalkeeper. Limerick comfortably held this slender lead until half time as Athlone failed to respond.

When play resumed after the break, the home team had a great opportunity after 50 minutes to double the lead. Athlone conceded another free kick and, when the ball broke to Killian Brouder, a close range finish seemed inevitable. However, the defender somehow sent the ball wide to allow the visitors off the hook. Still in contention, a good chance was not availed of though after 64 minutes as Ciaran Grogan, who was coming in at the back post for a free kick delivery, could only fire into the side netting with the goal gaping. It was as close as Athlone would come to grabbing an equaliser.

Tracy came close again from another free kick with Ellis then having a shot blocked. Limerick substitute Ciaran Hanlon was denied by Myles but the insurance score arrived after 87 minutes. Another substitute Colm Walsh O’Loughlen was involved as he set up Ellis to try and beat the Town keeper. The former Cork City striker duly obliged with his fourth goal in three games following a composed finish. It proved to be the last action of the game as Athlone could not react positively even with six minutes of additional time to play with.

Limerick now leapfrog over Athlone into third spot but Butlers men are just three points behind new outright leaders Bray in a very competitive First Division.

Athlone are back at home at the weekend when they welcome Drogheda United to Lissywollen on Friday.


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