ATHLONE TOWN 1 GALWAY UNITED 3
A late brace of goals from Galway United, gleaned maximum points for the First Division title aspirants and denied Athlone Town a deserved draw at Lissywollen on Friday night last.
Rob Manley had handed Galway United the lead at half time but Athlone Town substitute Andy Spain levelled matters with just two minutes remaining in the contest. With the home team set to claim a well-deserved share of the spoils, Galway struck twice in an exciting finale. Francely Lomboto put United back in front on the stroke of full time as Manu Dimas sealed victory in the second additional minute.
The hosts earned the first corner kick after just three minutes play while Oisin O’Reilly had the first chance for Galway. Glen McAuley was also denied by the goalkeeper at the other end with United forcing their first corner on 14 minutes.
Galway opened the scoring five minutes later when a botched clearance was capitalised upon by Rob Manley who made no mistake with a shot past the keeper from the left edge of the penalty area.
Midway through the half, the Town had a good chance to grab an equaliser as an Adam Lennon effort was parried by Conor Kearns, but McAuley’s weak follow up attempt did not trouble the United keeper. O’Reilly then fired across the box from the left as the visitors looked to double their advantage. David Hurley’s shot was also parried by the home keeper after 28 minutes.
Athlone had the better chances thereafter. Another corner kick was followed by Thomas Oluwa having a header saved, while four minutes from the break, McAuley took aim with a free kick and his strike was brilliantly pushed behind by Kearns.
The first chance on the resumption of play saw home debutant Patrick Hickey fire over. Stephen Walsh then had a header saved but Galway sat back for long periods. An Athlone corner after 55 minutes saw Aaron McBride have a shot saved.
United boss John Caulfield made a treble substitution just after the hour mark, a decision that was to be rewarded later. Gary Armstrong fired over following an Oluwa pass as Athlone tried hard to grab an equaliser. Galway had a few half chances to increase their lead as the half progressed. Walsh fired wide with team captain Conor McCormack also off target as Walsh had a further header saved.
Athlone substitute Valerii Dolia then had a shot saved at the second attempt by Kearns, but was rewarded for his ambition with the equaliser after 88 minutes when his rocket of a shot flew past the keeper’s left to shock the visitors.
The dream of collecting a point against the title challengers was to be shattered in cruel fashion when a sluggish Galway bounced back to life and were back in front on the stroke of full time when a hopeful ball in to Lomboto saw the substitute fire low past the keeper’s right.
Galway struck again in the second additional minute as Dimas had a simple tap in from close range after being picked out by an inviting cross from the right. To add to the home team’s misery, they finished with ten men when midfielder Aaron Connolly was red carded for violent conduct.