Athlone Town slump to second successive league defeat as Waterford edge close contest

Athlone Town slumped to a second successive defeat when a free kick strike early in the first half helped Waterford FC to victory last Friday night.

The Town did try hard to recover from conceding early but were out of luck in front of the goal. Both teams were looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season and it was the visitors that had the first chance, the opening corner kick of the contest seeing Giles Phillips having a shot saved.

What proved to be the winning goal arrived after 14 minutes. Athlone conceded a free kick on the left, about twenty-five yards from the goal and Shane Griffin drilled the ball to the roof of the net well out of the reach of Enda Minogue.

Athlone responded and could easily have been back on level terms just four minutes later. A cross from the left by Jamar Campion-Hinds picked out Patrick Hickey but his header was pushed away by Paul Martin. Isaie Louis then fired wide from the right as Athlone tried to level matters.

Waterford came close to doubling their lead midway through the half but a Ronan Coughlan shot was put behind by Minogue at his near post. Athlone’s Frantz Pierrot had penalty shouts turned down after 27 minutes. The next best chance of equalising before the break fell to Louis but his strike from the edge of the penalty area went narrowly wide. The home team’s final opportunity to draw level came in stoppage time but Aaron Connolly drilled a free kick wide.

The first chance on the resumption of play fell to Pierrot whose shot was put behind for a first corner kick to Athlone. The reasonably bright start to the half soon faded. Athlone came more into the game but were unable to make a breakthrough. Connolly delivered another free kick but Donal Curtin’s header was saved by goalkeeper Martin. A Waterford corner soon after saw a Phillips header pushed away with former Town player Thomas Oluwa then firing wide. Connolly was again in action after 75 minutes but the long-range attempt flew over the bar.

Waterford were holding on and their tactics were obvious. Goalkeeper Martin was booked for time wasting as the game headed into the closing stages. Athlone could not punish them on the scoreboard. Waterford’s last chance fell to Darragh Power who fired wide after 77 minutes. Athlone pushed forward in search of an equaliser.

The concession of a free by the visitors with 10 minutes remaining allowed Athlone another chance to line up a strike on goal. Connolly was hoping to find the net but saw Martin pull off a good save.

An additional five minutes was indicated and there was almost late drama during this period. Athlone had been more positive in the second half and could easily have grabbed a dramatic equaliser in the third additional minute. However, neither Louis nor Hickey could get a touch to guide the inviting cross into the net from close range.


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