Athlone Town 1 Rathcoole Boys 2
Athlone Towns under 17s came close to beating Rathcoole Boys at home in the Dublin and District League last Saturday afternoon.
Athlone had the chance to draw level with the visitors on the league table with a win but, after taking the lead, ended up empty handed. While this is the Towns second string at this age level, nevertheless there is a lot of talent in the ranks under the command of Michael O’Connor. In spite of having their goalkeeper sent off, the hosts opened the scoring but two goals in as many minutes late on sealed the win for Rathcoole.
Athlone started strongly and were on top in the first 20 minutes. First chance fell to Glory Odunze but his shot was parried by the visiting keeper. Blake Ryan then fired a free kick wide with Odunze having a further chance on 18 minutes. A long ball forward fell nicely for the number nine but his shot on the turn just cleared the bar.
The first corner kick of the game was earned by Athlone but a Rathcoole corner signalled the start of a period of dominance for the visitors. Town goalkeeper Billy Egan kept the visitors at bay with a string of fine saves. The first of many stops saw Egan block a shot from Oisin Smith midway through the half.
A further good block on a Scott Mahon shot followed. The woodwork also denied Rathcoole when Smith smashed a shot off the bar. Athlone’s sole response saw Ben Kilkenny fire off target. Egan was again in action just before the break. Mahon looked set to score but again the Town keeper made a brilliant save to push the ball behind. Athlone somewhat fortunate to head off for the break on level terms.
The home team had the first chance when play resumed as Callum Carroll fired off target. Rathcoole were quickly back into their stride with Egan again in action to deny Mahon. The visitors suffered further frustration when they were again denied by the woodwork.
The turning point came midway through the half when Egan was dismissed for handling the ball outside the penalty area. The keeper rushed off his line but used his hands in attempting to clear the danger. The referee produced the red card to reduce Athlone to ten men.
In spite of this, the Town took the lead on 73 minutes. A good move saw Odunze lift the ball over the keeper to then run it into the net. It looked like a shock could be in store but Rathcoole struck back with two goals in as many minutes.
The game was levelled after 80 minutes when Mahon eventually found the target. The winner came a minute later. Athlone were slack at the back allowing Smith to find the net with a low shot. There was still time for further drama as Athlone had a late chance to salvage a point in stoppage time, but Blake Ryan’s attempt though went just wide of the upright.