Athlone Town came close to getting a draw at home with league leaders Shelbourne last Friday night. The visitors held a two goal lead as the game headed into stoppage time but were hanging on when the final whistle sounded.
Darren Meenan set up a grandstand finish when he slotted home a penalty kick. Athlone still had time to try and grab a share of the spoils from the last action of the game. Meenan sent in a cross to the far post but the inrushing Ciaran Grogan missed a glorious chance to score when heading over from close range. It was hard luck on Athlone who had more than enough chances throughout to shock the table toppers. New signing Jean Yves Poame should have celebrated his debut with a goal but was let down by some poor finishing.
Shelbourne were on a nine match unbeaten run and were expected to see off the hosts. Athlone however, had not read the script and could have inflicted a rare defeat on the Reds.
First chance fell to Jamie Hamilton but he fired over with just two minutes played. Kealan Dillon’s free kick was parried by the goalkeeper with Poame unable to steer the rebound home. From Shels’ first chance, Oscar Brennan was denied by Aaron Myles. Athlone had another good opportunity to open the scoring after 17 minutes. Poame was again involved but headed wide with the goal at his mercy. A further chance was also off target as the Town’s new signing missed again.
Shelbourne made the most from the chances they created, taking the lead midway through the half. Jason Kabia, on his debut, beat Dean Casey in the air on the edge of the six yard box to head Shelbourne in front. A second goal soon followed.
Kabia was the provider this time with a ball into the penalty area from the right. Ciaran Kilduff took advantage of the failure to clear with an audacious overhead kick which left Myles rooted to his goal line. It looked like an easy win for the leaders but the home side never gave up the fight.
Poame fired over from Shane Dunne’s low cross from the right. Hamilton sent a free kick straight at the keeper with Meenan volleying wide. Last home chance fell to Dillon but Colin McCabe made the save. Kilduff had a chance to make in three late in the half but Grogan got back to clear from under the bar.
Shelbourne remained in control up to the hour mark but Athlone staged a comeback when the Reds challenge faltered. Rhys Gorman raised hopes with a shot which was pushed away by the keeper. As Shelbourne sat back, Terry Butler’s men pushed forward but could not find a cutting edge in spite of having lots of possession. The deficit was finally cut in the first additional minute after Dunne had been fouled. Meenan buried the resulting spot kick. Grogan then had the chance to level matters but headed over.