Unbeaten run concludes as Town suffer local derby loss



John Dingle

An unbeaten run of three games ended for Athlone Town as neighbours Longford inflicted a heavy defeat on Adrian Carberry’s men last Friday night.

The home team were still in contention when trailing by just a single goal at the break. Referee Eoghan O’Shea then became prominent when he awarded Longford a penalty kick and sent off Lee Duffy. Sam Verdon tucked away the spot kick and when an own goal was conceded, the points were safe for the visitors. A fourth goal in stoppage time put the gloss on the score.

With an unchanged line up, Athlone were first to attack. Taner Dogan tried his luck on seven minutes having spotted Lee Steacy out of position but the goalkeeper got back to make the save, while Verdon fired wide at the other end.

Longford opened the scoring with 10 minutes gone. Rob Manley won the battle with Scott Delaney in the race for a long ball forward, steering the ball home past the keepers left. Athlone had the better of the exchanges for the remainder of the opening half. A first corner kick was earned with Dean George and Jack Reynolds both off target.

The best chance of an equaliser came after 32 minutes when a Ronan Manning free kick from the left was back headed by Ciaran Grogan but the ball hit the bar and went wide.

Athlone were again on the attack when play resumed with two early corner kicks. Longford too had chances as Aaron Myles denied Dean Byrne with Verdon and substitute Aaron McNally both off target with attempts on goal.

The game took a turn Longford’s way midway through the half. Tumelo Tlou was adjudged to have fouled Byrne and Verdon made no mistake as he sent the keeper the wrong way with the resulting spot kick.

McNally then shot off the keeper’s legs but the cause was lost for Athlone when Duffy saw red for an alleged late challenge. With a numerical advantage for the closing stages, Longford soon made it three nil, Delaney tried to clear but instead headed a Byrne shot over his own keeper into the net.

Athlone’s first clean sheet just four days earlier now a distant memory. The three points were secure for Longford and a late corner kept up the pressure.

Athlone ended the game with just ten men on the pitch when substitute Evan White was forced off with an injury, the three switches now allowed working against Athlone on this occasion. Longford had little difficulty with completing the rout in stoppage time, Karl Chambers on hand to tap in from close range as the home keeper and his defence were caught out.

Athlone are now level on nine points with Wexford FC as Shamrock Rovers second team drop to the bottom. Carberry’s men next face another tough challenge when they take on table toppers Drogheda. The points were shared in a six-goal thriller last time and Athlone would gladly settle for another point.


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