Athlone Town suffer first league defeat as Finn Harps prove too strong in Ballybofey

FINN HARPS 2 ATHLONE TOWN 0

John Dingle

Athlone Town slumped to their first league defeat of the season when they were beaten by Finn Harps in Ballybofey on Friday night last.

Both goals were scored in the opening half as the home team made the most of some poor Town defending. The result sees the Donegal team move into joint second spot on the table alongside Cork City as Athlone now drop back to fourth place.

There was little excitement in the early stages but the first goal with just 17 minutes played livened up proceedings. Former Athlone player Success Edogun had the first chance when firing over with Tony McNamee also off target for the Donegal outfit.

Weak defending proved costly for the visitors as they soon went behind. Dylan Hand could not prevent Edogun from crossing the ball into the box from the right, his low delivery picking out Stephen Doherty who got in between Noah VanGeenen and German Rodriguez to shoot past the helpless Enda Minogue from close range. McNamee was again wide on 26 minutes while twominutes later a goal line clearance was needed to keep Harps at bay. Goalkeeper Minogue spilled a right wing cross and needed Rodriguez to spare his blushes as the right back cleared the loose ball off the line.

Athlone were hardly seen as an attacking force in the first half and 34 minutes had elapsed before they had their first chance when Jamal Ibrahim fired off target. A first corner kick of the contest followed from which VanGeenen headed over at the far post.

It looked like the visitors would make it to the break just a goal in arrears but Harps doubled their lead after 44 minutes. McNamee’s free kick was not cleared by a hesitant Town defence and Edogun took advantage of the slack marking to nip in and score from close range after Jamie Watson had flicked on the delivery.

The first chance following the resumption of play saw Dan McKenna have a shot saved but home keeper Tim Hiemer generally had a quiet night between the posts. Aaron Connolly came closest to reducing the deficit when grazing the woodwork after 50 minutes, but in the main, it was a frustrating outing in the North West for Athlone.

Three corners were earned up to the hour mark but still Harps remained untroubled. Oisin Duffy and Dylan Gavin were called into the action before the hour mark and the former was off target from the third corner of the half. Having failed to find the net from close range, Athlone opted to try their luck from further out the field but Connolly’s strike was safely collected by Hiemer.

The early promise since play resumed soon faded though and the last meaningful chance for Athlone to score came midway through the half. Armado Oakley sent in a cross from the right which picked out Gavin who was unable to keep his header down as the ball flew over the bar instead. It all but ended the Town's hopes of staging a comeback.

 

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