ATHLONE TOWN 0 BRAY WANDERERS 0
Athlone Town picked up their first point in four games when they shared the spoils with Bray Wanderers at home last Friday night.
It was a welcome boost ending a run of three straight defeats but was achieved against ten men. The visitors had to play for an hour with a numerical disadvantage after Ryan Graydon was sent off for the second time this season against Athlone. Bray had earlier looked set to collect all three points but the dismissal worked in the Town's favour.
The visitors were on top for much of the opening half and it appeared almost inevitable that they would be first on the scoreboard, but the sending off though after 34 minutes changed the course of the game.
Brandon Kavanagh had the first chance when his shot was saved by Micheal Schlingermann while Joe Doyle continued Bray's bright opening when firing over. Doyle was also unlucky to see his shot cleared off the line as the home team struggled.
Mark Byrne had a further away chance but the game was to then turn dramatically. An act of petulance from Graydon when he kicked out as the ball went wide proved costly, a straight red card handing Athlone a great boost.
The home team had their first shot on target after 40 minutes when Aidan Friel was denied by Brian Maher. Bray were still dangerous and Dylan Hand did well to get in a block on Darren Craven who was about to pull the trigger.
Athlone had their best chance of scoring a minute before the break when Kurtis Byrne fired a volley from the edge of the penalty area which was superbly tipped over by the keeper.
Bray, sensibly in the circumstances, decided to adopt a more defensive approach when play resumed. There was little action for most of the half with Athlone only making a late burst as they failed to make the extra man count. Two corner kicks for the home team were the only highlights in the first 20 minutes.
Later, at the other end, Gary Shaw sent in a dangerous cross which sliced off the boot of Tristan Noack Hofmann and over the bar. Schlingermann did well after 73 minutes to push behind a goal bound effort with another corner following.
A win would have moved Athlone back up into the play off positions but any urgency only became apparent in the closing stages. Friel pushed forward from full back and Athlone now carried more of an attacking threat.
The best chance of a home win came with six minutes remaining but a shot from James Doona was blocked. Adam Wixted fired over from the last action of the 90 minutes but four additional minutes offered more time for Athlone to try and grab a winner.
A corner was earned but Bray defended stoutly as Jamie Hollywood was denied when his shot was blocked. Bray survived with Athlone happy to have stopped the run of defeats but reflecting on what might have been.