Athlone Town completed their travels in the First Division for 2020 when they took on Shamrock Rovers II at the Tallaght Stadium last Saturday afternoon.
The visitors took an early lead but still ended up as losers. The result pushes the Hoops to within a point of the Town on the league table with an eighth-place finish to be decided on the final day.
Athlone were looking to make amends for their earlier poor showing against Rovers and made a positive start. Thomas Oluwa had the first chance for the youthful hosts but Athlone gradually settled and earned two corner kicks.
A third corner after 18 minutes lead to the opening goal, Ronan Manning delivering the ball and Ciaran Grogan headed home from twelve yards range. The lead was not built upon however. Rovers Aaron Bolger was narrowly wide with Dean George then having an effort parried by the Hoops keeper.
Rovers levelled matters on 29 minutes as Oluwa side footed to the net past the keeper’s right. A further corner for Athlone saw Scott Delaney head over but the next goal was to fall the Hoops way five minutes before the break, Brandon Kavanagh availing of some space to fire to the roof of the net. Adam Lennon had a chance to level matters right on the stroke of half time but screwed his shot wide.
Athlone were on top when play resumed but still found themselves further behind from the first attack launched by the Hoops in the half. Jack Reynolds had a shot blocked for a corner as the Town pressure continued with two further corners. The good start unravelled with a third Rovers score on 59 minutes. Oluwa was again on target as he latched onto a pass to shoot beyond Aaron Myles from the edge of the six-yard box.
Athlone had a couple of late chances to make the closing stages more interesting but Rovers could also have added to their goal tally. Myles did well to deny former Athlone player Dean Williams with Brandon Kavanagh also drilling a free kick over the bar.
The Town keeper was again in top form when blocking a shot from substitute Kevin Zefi. Athlone rallied as the game headed into the closing stages with the woodwork coming to the Hoops rescue.
A long-range strike from the recalled David Brookes crashed off the bar. It proved to be the final away chance until deep into stoppage time. Three additional minutes were indicated and that proved sufficient time for more chances to be created at either end.
Home substitute, Dean McMenamy, had a shot parried by Myles while, in the last action, Rovers keeper Alex Moody was also in top form.
Manning looked to add to his goal tally but Moody did well to block the goalbound attempt. Rovers dealt with the resulting corner as the final whistle soon sounded.
Athlone now need to match the Rovers result in the final game to stay out of the bottom two on the table.