Athlone again returned empty handed from a trip to Dublin, as Shelbourne made it four wins from four in 2017 against Roddy Collins’ men at Tolka Park last Friday night (September 15 ).
Four months after returning to the club he led to the First Division title, Collins is still looking for a first league win, as Shels took advantage of some poor goalkeeping to run out easy winners.
With Igors Labuts banned for a year, Conor Gleeson was handed the goalkeepers jersey. The nightmare for Gleeson started after just seven minutes when he was easily beaten by Dayle Rooney, but the Athlone defence was also culpable as they granted The Reds acres of space down their right wing.
Athlone were handed a quick fire opportunity to draw level from the penalty spot soon after, when Sean Byrne took down Etanda Nkololo inside the penalty box. The Town number 11 then took responsibility for the resulting spot-kick, but his weak attempt was easily pushed behind by Dean Delaney.
As half time approached, Athlone were still in contention, but another goalkeeping error a minute before the break saw The Reds increase their lead. Sean Byrne overlapped down the left flank, but his cross come shot into the danger zone was badly judged by the hapless Town keeper, who saw the ball float over his head and into the net. There was still time for Athlone to again reduce the deficit to the bare minimum, but Joe Carmody’s shot was parried by Delaney in the last action of the opening half.
Luke Kelly made his senior debut as a half-time substitute for Athlone, but the lead was increased just two minutes into the half. A back pass from Stephen Walsh saw Gleeson dally on the ball. His clearance was blocked down by substitute Dylan Grimes, who had the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net.
The game was over as a contest, but Collins’ men did pull a goal back on the hour mark. Claudio Silva netted at the second attempt after Delaney had blocked his initial strike. It proved to be mere consolation, however. In spite of forcing 12 corner kicks, the visitors were unable to take advantage from the set pieces.
The three goal lead was restored midway through the half from a corner after Gleeson had made amends when pushing over Rooney’s goal bound free kick. The respite was brief as Derek Prendergast made it four after James O’Brien’s overhead kick picked out another former team mate from his Athlone days.
Ryan Gaffey had a number of chances for the visitors in the closing stages, but Shels stood firm to complete another blank night for the Town in the capital.
Athlone finish their away programme with another visit to Dublin on Friday night, September 22, by taking on Cabinteely in Stradbrook.