Positive league campaign start as Athlone Town comprehensively defeat Wexford FC


John Dingle

Athlone Town started their SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign in a positive manner with a comprehensive victory over Wexford FC at Lissywollen on Friday night last.

All three goals came in the opening half as the Town had the first three points of the season claimed by the interval break. The visitors posed more of a threat in the second half but seldom looked like reducing the deficit.

Wexford had been pencilled in as one of the favourites to lift the First Division title having significantly strengthened their squad during the close season. One of those new signings Mikie Rowe was to the fore in the early stages as the visitors made a bid to open the scoring.

Athlone’s Jarlath Jones, on his return from Drogheda United, was involved in the deadlock being broken with a mere 12 minutes played. Jones delivered the first corner kick of the contest to the far post where Noah Van Geenen shot to the net from close range.

The next action saw the home team double their lead on 21 minutes as another set piece lead to a goal. Dean Ebbe chased a long ball forward but was fouled outside the penalty area by Owen Mason. The goalkeeper was lucky to escape with just a yellow card but Athlone still made the most from the resulting free kick as Aaron Connolly’s strike was parried by the keeper but Jamal Ibrahim, on his debut, was quickly in to tap the rebound home from inside the six-yard box.

It was a dream start for Athlone and was to get even better by the time the break had arrived. Two corner kicks kept up the home pressure while Wexford earned their first corner on 29 minutes. German Rodriguez sent a right wing cross wide as Athlone looked for more goals and the third score duly arrived on 36 minutes. A two-goal lead can be a precarious one so a third Athlone score late in the first half proved invaluable. Ibrahim cut in from the left and, although Mason parried the strikers shot, another debutant Armado Oakley came in at the back post to slot the loose ball home.

A treble substitution at the break by Wexford summed up the visitor’s predicament. The visitors enjoyed more possession but Athlone could easily have added to their goal tally. Rowe was again prominent in the early stages but was off target from two chances.

Athlone replied as Ibrahim fired over the bar and Connolly’s free kick was deflected behind. The midfielder also had a shot saved on the hour mark. Athlone had two good chances to enhance the score in the closing stages. Connolly released Carl Mujaguzi with a precision pass but the strike was blocked with substitute Brian Torre then firing the rebound wide. Mujaguzi had another opportunity to also cap his debut with a goal on 87 minutes. This time the ball was taken around Mason but the finish ended in the side netting to let Wexford away lightly.


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