The dismissal of Cabinteely’s Keith Dalton after 19 minutes proved pivotal to the outcome of Athlone’s home victory over the capital side on Friday night in Lissywollen.
Up to the sending off, the exchanges had been fairly even. Shane Barnes had the first chance for the Town with James Doona also coming close. The visitor’s first chance could have led to the opening goal but Ben Feene’ys shot was pushed away by Micheal Schlingermann.
Further chances fell Athlone’s way with Barnes having another couple of opportunities to find the net. The game was to take a dramatic turn when Cabo were reduced to ten men. Dalton and Barnes clashed just inside the home half and the Cabinteely number seven saw red for his challenge.
Barnes should have opened the scoring for Athlone after 24 minutes but in spite of rounding the keeper, shot into the side netting. Doona then fired over from the left with Kurtis Byrne also off target.
An early home corner on the resumption of play was followed by Scott Delaney heading wide. The visitors had a free kick from Feeney saved while Zak O’Neill found the side netting with a shot from the right.
The home breakthrough finally came on 57 minutes. The ball was worked out to Doona on the left. The winger cut inside and fired in a low shot which found the net past the keeper’s left. It was a relief for Athlone to have made the breakthrough but the home team never looked comfortable with such a slender lead.
Niall Barnes replied for Cabinteely with a long range effort which Schlingermann saved. Athlone were denied a second goal by the woodwork as Stephen Meaney’s effort hit the post. The Town really needed that second score to kill off the visiting challenge and the danger signs remained. On 74 minutes, substitute Eoin McPhillips took aim from the edge of the penalty area with Schlingermann doing well to push the ball over the bar.
Cabo levelled matters with 10 minutes left to play, Feeney cutting inside from the right and his shot flew past the keeper’s right to the net.
The home team had few further chances up to the 90 minute mark. Substitute Lee Duffy fired wide and a corner was wasted. Four additional minutes kept up the tension. A draw would have been of little use to Athlone following defeat the previous weekend at the hands of Wexford.
Athlone piled forward in stoppage time but Cabinteely stood firm. Killian Cantwell advanced from defence and delivered a hopeful long ball into the edge of the penalty area. Byrne still had a lot to do but great control followed by a neat turn and a superb finish had Athlone ahead.
There was one more anxious moment before the win could be celebrated. A corner kick was conceded and Cabinteely pushed everyone forward including their goalkeeper in an attempt to salvage a point. The delivery was not taken advantage of as the ball was sent over the bar with the final whistle then sounding.