A stoppage time goal from Adam Wixted secured a share of the spoils for Athlone Town against UCD last Friday night. The home team twice surrendered the lead as it looked like the opening game of the midlanders' season would end in defeat.
Adrian Carberry’s men should have taken the lead inside the opening minute as UCD lost possession from the kick off and the Town attacked down the left. The cross fell to the unmarked Stephen Meaney who had two chances to score, but Lorcan Healy stood firm on both occasions.
Colm Whelan had the hosts' first chance, but it was Athlone that were on top in the opening stages. The woodwork rescued Andy Mylers men after 11 minutes when a long range effort from Kurtis Byrne crashed off the bar. UCD gradually gained a foothold and took a shock lead after 21 minutes. Liam Kerrigan’s initial effort struck the bar, but the visitors struggled to clear the danger and Mark Dignam forced the ball home from close range.
The lead could easily have been doubled on 27 minutes, but Michael Schlingermann did well to deny Kerrigan and Jack Keaney in quick succession. The College keeper was also in fine form as he kept Byrne and Meaney at bay. The well-deserved equaliser came after 38 minutes as Aidan Friel's cross from the right was headed home by Meaney.
The visitors again had the better chances when play resumed but once more UCD were to strike a decisive blow. A Wixted shot was pushed behind by Healy with the keeper also denying Dan McKenna who had tried his luck from long range. James Doona was next to test the keeper but three corners in quick succession showed the students were still dangerous. A dead ball situation saw Mylers men retake the lead after 74 minutes.
A free kick inside the home half fell to Dignam who released Dara Keane down the right. The substitute fired a low shot across the keeper to the corner of the net. Two more corners followed for College but Athlone took control in the closing stages. Byrne had a shot saved with a corner coming to nothing. Time looked to have run out on the Town as three additional minutes were indicated.
Play continued and in the closing stages of the contest, Athlone scored. The ball was launched up field by Schlingermann and a flick on fell to Wixted on the right edge of the penalty area. Healy came out to narrow the angle but the Town number seven was ultra-cool as he fired home. UCD were shattered and just had enough time to restart the game before the final whistle sounded. Athlone were grateful to salvage a point but know they should have had all three secured much earlier.