Not even the most optimistic Athlone Town supporter could have predicted last Friday’s six-goal victory over Drogheda United - a result that has given the Midlanders a much-needed boost in their quest to avoid relegation from the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
Keith Long’s side felt they could disturb Drogheda, but from an early stage it was apparent all that needed to be determined at Lissywollen would be Athlone’s winning margin. Ultimately a six-goal victory was a hugely satisfying success for Athlone, who enter the mid-season break only seven points behind second from bottom UCD.
It was a cruel evening for Robbie Horgan, who departed from Drogheda by mutual consent on Tuesday, as Athlone took maximum advantage of the visitors brutal defending. Philly Gorman and Derek Prendergast commenced the rout with two important goals shortly before the break.
Those vital strikes gave Athlone the initiative and after the restart Drogheda, bereft of confidence, were easily dismissed. James O’Brien, Gorman, Sean Brennan, and Ian Sweeney all rattled the Drogheda to cap a truly remarkable triumph.
Considering the surprisingly emphatic nature of the scoreline Athlone’s goal difference was bolstered significantly. Following 16 matches Athlone have won two, drawn once, and lost 13, but Long will be heartened by the fact that the distance from UCD and Drogheda has been reduced.
Next Friday Athlone face another critical contest when making the trip to Dalymount Park for a clash with a revitalised Bohemians. Owen Heary’s Gypsies have produced two excellent away performances in the past fortnight claiming an FAI Ford Cup win over Limerick FC and thumping Bray Wanderers in the league at the Carlisle Grounds. Those displays showed that Bohs can be dangerous opponents, but improving Athlone also have a cause now too.