KERRY FC 0 ATHLONE TOWN 1
Kerry FC and Athlone Town met in an historic game at Mounthawk Park in Tralee last Friday night, a late goal from the visitors securing a much needed brace of league points in the first ever meeting of the teams.
The weather conditions ruined the game as a spectacle, the wind favouring the league new boys in the opening half and they had the better chances. The early stages proved cautious with neither goalkeeper troubled in the first 20 minutes, Kerry having the first chance when a Graham O’Reilly cross from the right went wide.
Ryan Kelliher then had a further chance for the hosts. A first corner kick was earned by Kerry midway through the half and the best chance was created soon after, but Leonardo Gaxhas’ strike was cleared by Haji Abdikadir.
Athlone had their first chance when half an hour had been played. Patrick Hickey had a shot blocked with Isaie Louis then firing over. A half with few goal scoring opportunities continued with Gaxha having another home chance and also another corner being earned. Athlone ended the half on the attack when Frantz Pierrot had a shot saved.
With the wind now at their back, it proved to be an easier half for Athlone, but it looked like the game would end scoreless though only for late drama which yielded a winner. Athlone had the first chance on the resumption of play but Pierrot had a shot blocked. Kevin Williams then blasted over for Kerry in one of the few times the home team had a chance to break the deadlock in the second half.
Athlone’s first corner of the contest on 58 minutes almost lead to a goal but Pierrot’s shot was put behind for another corner. It was the second of four corners in a five minute spell of Town dominance either side of the hour mark. The third corner saw Pierrot again involved as his shot was pushed behind by the Kerry keeper.
The hosts survived but had a further anxious moment after 72 minutes when Pierrot’s attempt on goal was cleared off the line. Kerry were being pushed back as Athlone dominated and their last chance came from a corner after 82 minutes.
Dolia was in the action at this stage having come on to replace the injured Louis and proved to be the match winner with just two minutes remaining. In spite of all their dominance since half time, Athlone were heading for a draw but the deadlock was finally broken with a fine finish. Pierrot did well to hold up the ball on the edge of the box and although surrounded by a number of defenders, he played the ball to the Ukrainian on the left, Dolia scoring with a well struck effort between the keeper and the post.
The home resistance was finally broken but a goal was always more likely to fall Athlone’s way prior to this. Kerry offered no response and five additional minutes did not help their cause.