Athlone Town retrieve half-time scoring deficit to ensure merited parity in Midlands derby


John Dingle

Athlone Town completed an amazing comeback to claim a merited league point in the first Midlands derby of the season with Longford Town in Lissywollen on Friday night last.

Three goals in a 15 minute spell after the hour mark retrieved the scoring deficit, the hosts coming close to grabbing a winner, but then had a player dismissed towards the end of this intriguing contest.

The visitors got off to the best possible start with the opening goal after four minutes as Adam Wixted celebrated scoring against his former club. Athlone came more into the game midway through the half but Jack Brady was solid between the away posts as he twice saved efforts from Gideon Tetteh.

Amardo Oakley then sent an inviting right wing cross wide but the home revival faded. Luke Wade Slater then saw his shot pushed up in the air and gathered at the second attempt by Enda Minogue but the respite for Athlone was brief.

A second corner on 34 minutes saw Stephen Henderson’s men double their lead, the delivery from Bastien Hery into the six-yard box was headed home by Oisin Hand from close range. As the game went into stoppage time, a third corner was again put behind by the home team. Hery once more sent in the delivery and the ball was put into his own net by Jarlath Jones. It left Longford in control at the break and seemingly set to claim their first win.

After a disastrous opening half, the home team were handed a lifeline on the hour mark. Jamal Ibrahim sent in a low cross from the right and a neat turn from Dean Ebbe saw the striker then fire a shot to the roof of the net from 10 yards out, the number nine coming within inches of claiming a hat trick later in the half.

The first goal gave the home side the belief that they possibly could reel in the visitors but there was still work to be done. Ibrahim fired wide from long range and was then involved when Athlone reduced the deficit to the bare minimum after 70 minutes. The strikers shot from the right was parried by Brady but Ebbe was on hand to fire the rebound to the net with the keeper stranded.

The comeback was completed three minutes later when Ibrahim scored the equaliser as the visitors collapsed. Longford’s only response to the equalising goal was another corner but it was safely dealt with.

Athlone now went in pursuit of a winner and Longford had the woodwork to thank for eventually salvaging a point from a thrilling encounter. Ebbe had a shot cleared but came within the width of the post from claiming his hat trick after 82 minutes. Brian Torre crossed from the left and Ebbe looked set to score but sent his close-range strike against the post from point blank range to let Longford off lightly.

Athlone finished the game with 10 players after Oakley picked up a second yellow card with five minutes of this enthralling contest remaining.


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