ATHLONE TOWN 2 WEXFORD FC 0
Athlone Town are off the bottom of the table for the first time this season following their defeat of Wexford FC at home last Friday night, two second half goals from Adam Lennon and Patrick Hickey seeing off the visitors who had already beaten the Town three times in 2022.
There were no goals in the opening half but it still contained lots of noteworthy action. It proved to be a particularly frustrating night for Thomas Oluwa. Athlone earned the first corner kick of the contest as Wexford replied with two of their own. Goalkeeper Enda Minogue then came to Athlone’s rescue to deny Aaron Dobbs on the quarter hour mark.
The hosts should have hit the front after 21 minutes. As the keeper advanced, Oluwa chipped wide of the open goal. Soon after, Town’s top scorer again failed to find the net as Alex Moody pushed his shot from the right behind, as the game remained scoreless up to the break.
There was just four minutes gone in the second half when Lennon broke the deadlock, the number seven shooting past the keeper’s left from the edge of the penalty area. The lead should have been doubled a minute later, once more though Oluwa failed to finish.
Substitute Jordan Tallon then drilled a free kick over for Wexford with Oluwa having another chance for the hosts. Midway through the half, Minogue made another fine save to push away a shot from Luka Lovic and also denied substitute Thomas Considine.
Wexford were then handed a chance to level matters in controversial circumstances with 10 minutes remaining. Conor Barry tangled with Oisin Duffy and the Town captain was harshly penalised. Justice seemed to be done however when the resulting spot kick was missed, veteran striker Dinny Corcoran blasted the ball high over the bar.
Wexford now knew their already slim chances of making the promotion play offs hung by a thread. Athlone were boosted by the miss and made the most of the let off to double their lead after 84 minutes. Moody was left stranded by his defence allowing Hickey to fire home from the edge of the six-yard box.
The game should have been killed off as a contest in the penultimate minute. As Wexford pushed forward, Duffy counter attacked to set up substitute Jack Kavanagh but the finish was not up to scratch as Moody was allowed to block the shot.
Wexford’s last response during normal time was a corner. Five additional minutes were indicated as Dobbs then fired wide on a disappointing night for the visitors with another corner the last time they threatened. Gary Armstrong had the last chance of the game but a shot which cleared the bar mattered little at this late stage.
The three points gained finally moves Athlone off the foot of the table ahead of Cobh Ramblers on goal difference. Another clean sheet at home adds to the feelgood factor among the Town ranks. The bottom two teams meet next at St Colman’s Park in the proverbial six pointer.