ATHLONE TOWN 2 UCD 4
A week after shocking table toppers Drogheda at United Park it was back to reality for Athlone Town when they were beaten by UCD last Friday night.
Jack Reynolds had handed the hosts a half time lead but four goals in a 20 minute spell put the Students in control. Ronan Manning had cut the deficit to the bare minimum but Andy Myler’s men recovered to get their promotion chase back on track.
The visitors forced two corner kicks inside the opening three minutes but Athlone responded with their first corner to be followed by Jack Keaney firing over for UCD.
Adrian Carberry’s team got the perfect start with the lead goal after 19 minutes. Adam Lennon created the opening on the right by playing the ball into Dean George who slipped in Reynolds for a good finish past the keeper’s left.
A further home corner followed with Taner Dogan, from the right, then having a shot saved. UCD beat the offside trap after 30 minutes but Colm Whelan shot over the bar.
Reynolds and Yoyo Mahdy were both denied by the respective keepers, while Dogan also saw his effort saved. The closing stages of the half could have yielded a goal at either end. Lennon though he had doubled the lead but his fierce drive from the right somehow stayed out after hitting the upright. Mahdy had a great opportunity to level matters but drilled his shot across the goalmouth.
UCD earned the first corner when play resumed while Manning replied by firing a free kick from the right across the penalty area and wide, but the visitors were back on level terms just before the hour mark when Evan Weir volleyed past the Town keeper.
Two further goals in a five minute spell approaching the midway point of the half had College in control, Athlone’s defensive failings again surfacing.
Although outnumbered, Mahdy still won out as he fired home. It soon became three one. Whelan got the better of Aaron Myles who had come out to try to save but the ball was fired low to the net.
Manning reduced the deficit a minute later with a superb volley home from twenty five yards range. The two goal advantage was restored after 79 minutes when Mahdy benefited from a good pass to fire to the net.
There was still more drama to follow. On 82 minutes, Lorcan Healy was lucky that his clearance off Manning did not bounce into the net and the Town ace was again in action with three minutes remaining when showing a keen eye for a score, Manning’s chip was tipped over the bar by the keeper.
It was the last chance of the game and although four additional minutes were eventually played there was no further action.
It was a disappointing result for the Town after their bright start. Division top scorers UCD were always likely to take full advantage of any defensive slip ups and the precious three points keeps alive their play-off aspirations.