Second half spirit shown but Athlone suffer away day loss

DROGHEDA UNITED 4 ATHLONE TOWN 2

Athlone Town looked dead and buried when they trailed Drogheda United by three goals to nil at half time in United Park last Saturday evening.

The deficit had been reduced to the bare minimum by the midway point of the second half as Athlone staged a comeback. Drogheda eased the home tension with a fourth goal late on to complete the scoring in an amazing six goal thriller.

There was a lively start to the game with the woodwork denying both teams inside the first ten minutes. In the first action of the game, Luke Heeney fired against the Athlone bar from the edge of the penalty area. The visitors were also denied by the woodwork a minute later. Luca Gratzer did well to push an Aaron Brilly strike onto the post to concede the first corner kick.

After eight minutes the United keeper was again called upon to make a good save, this time from Kaleem Simon. After 15 minutes, a Sean Brennan free kick was pushed up in the air by Aaron Myles with Mark Hughes then firing off target. Athlone could have taken the lead midway through the half, but Dean Williams was unable to finish from a good position.

The game was to take a major turn in the home teams favour with three goals without reply in the last 16 minutes of the half. The deadlock was broken on 29 minutes, Brennan finishing off a right wing cross. Brennan was also involved in the second goal after 36 minutes. His long range effort was spilled by Myles and Chris Lyons was on hand to tuck away the rebound from close range.

The three points appeared to have been secured when United scored for a third time just before the break. Lyons saw his shot blocked by the keeper but the loose ball fell to Luke Heeney who scored from close range. When the whistle sounded to end the opening half it looked like the game was over as a contest. What was to unfold after the break could not have been foreseen.

After just three minutes of the second half, Dean Casey drilled a shot off the post from the left to brighten Athlone's prospects. Substitute, Evan Pierce, reduced the deficit just after the hour mark when he picked up on a back pass to coolly finish.

Drogheda were again rocked two minutes later. This time the goal came from long range as Simon sent a fantastic left footed strike past the keeper. The home team were struggling as their lead had been significantly cut. Athlone were now in pursuit of an equaliser.

Shane Dunne’s free kick was headed behind with Aaron Brilly's shot gathered at the second attempt by the United keeper. The comeback ended however when Drogheda scored their fourth goal against the run of play late on. Brennan's free from the left into the penalty area was only parried by the keeper. James Clarke was on hand to tuck away the rebound to punish the handling error.

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