Drogheda United 2 Athlone Town 0
Drogheda United kept up their push for the First Division title when they beat ten man Athlone Town last Friday night at Lissywollen. The dismissal of John Morgan just before the half time break proved crucial to the outcome, a second yellow card for the full back ended all hopes that the home team could spring a surprise against second placed United.
The visitors had opened the scoring on 17 minutes but Athlone were still in contention. The numerical disadvantage proved too big an obstacle to overcome though as the lead was doubled midway through the second half.
Adam Lennon was handed his first team debut as Athlone started brightly. The hosts had a great opportunity to take an early lead. From the first chance of the game after three minutes, Jamie Hamilton set up Nika Kalandarishvili on the left. The finish though from the striker was less than ideal as the ball was lifted over the bar from twelve yards range. The visitors then had an excellent opportunity of their own as the goalmouth action continued. A Chris Lyons shot was blocked with Stephen Meaney then firing over from close range.
Drogheda had another good chance but Mark Doyle headed over a right wing cross. Athlone replied as Evan Pierce had the opportunity to open the scoring but sent an effort from the right across the goalmouth and wide. Drogheda took the lead after 17 minutes from the first corner kick of the game. Sean Brennan sent in the delivery and Doyle was on hand to find the net from inside the penalty box.
Athlone had a good chance to equalise after 26 minutes. Again it resulted from a corner kick. The ball broke to Shane Dunne and his cross to the back post was fired over by Hamilton.
The turning point came when Athlone were reduced to ten men after 40 minutes. Having already picked up a yellow card, Morgan was soon heading for an early shower when fouling Meaney close to the half way line. Hamilton then slotted in at left back. United had the chance to double their lead on the stroke of half time but Doyle had a goalbound effort blocked on the line.
In spite of having an extra man, the First Division’s top scorers only added one more goal to their tally in the second half. Lyons had an early chance with Doyle then having a shot parried by Aaron Myles. Athlone replied with a corner.
Drogheda increased their lead after 67 minutes. Lyons tapped home at the back post from a right wing cross by Adam Wixted as the hosts appealed in vain for offside. Former Athlone players Brennan and substitute Mark Hughes both fired wide for United but it was Athlone that came closest to scoring the next goal. Deep into stoppage time, the Town were handed a late opportunity to grab a consolation score. Dillon took aim from a free kick but was unlucky to see his strike clip the bar.