An early season shock saw Athlone Town secure full points against pre-season title favourites Galway United at home last Friday night.
A brilliant opening half display saw the hosts score three times without reply. Galway did improve in the second half but a late goal was mere consolation as the Town twice hit the bar on the counter attack.
Town boss Carberry named an unchanged starting line-up from the UCD game and his faith was justified.
United were first to attack with the opening corner earned after four minutes play. A further corner soon followed from which Ruairi Keating headed over.
Athlone settled and took the lead with just 12 minutes played. Adam Wixted released Friel down the right and his cross was headed past his own goalkeeper by Gary Boylan. It was an unfortunate goal to concede but worse was to follow for John Caulfield’s men.
Stephen Meaney almost doubled the lead after 17 minutes but did not have long to wait for to score. Galway’s defence were again caught out as a defensive clearance from Athlone saw Wixted head on to Meaney. The ball was fired home and Galway were in trouble.
They did have a chance to post an immediate response but Micheal Schlingermann pulled off a fine save to push away a Shane Doherty flick.
The next goal again fell Athlone’s way on 26 minutes. James Doona attacked down the left and his low ball across the goalmouth picked out Meaney who slotted home from close range. The remainder of the half was dominated by the home team as Galway hung on for the half time break.
A double substitution for the second half by Galway saw them revert to a more conventional back four. It was a good response but United’s failings in front of the target were obvious.
Half-time substitute Wilson Waweru had the first chance but fired wide. Athlone replied with Friel’s shot being put behind for a corner. Galway’s corner count reached double figures but the home defence was under no pressure from any of the deliveries.
Athlone were content to defend as Galway had no option other than to attack. As a result, Athlone could easily have added to their goal tally on the counter attack. One such offensive break saw Wixted try his luck after 64 minutes but the strike crashed off the bar.
Galway finally made a breakthrough after 77 minutes. A cross from the left broke to Waweru who shot to the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty box. It offered some hope for the visitors but Athlone could easily have restored their three goal advantage moments later, but team captain Kurtis Byrne was denied by the woodwork as his strike from the right crashed off the bar.
Galway offered little up front throughout and their plight was summed up late on. Waweru was well placed inside the penalty area but fired his shot across the goalmouth.
Four additional minutes were played but Galway’s fate had already been sealed.