Caulfield is not under-estimating Athlone's challenge

A 3-0 win away to Treaty United on Friday was just reward for a ruthlessly efficient performance from a Galway United side that continues to build momentum in its title push.

Despite the comfortable finish, chances were at a premium early in a scrappy game. After Treaty United coughed up a cheap penalty inside the first half hour, David Hurley's low conversion to the corner was perfect.

He was to be central to the key moment of the game too. Before half-time, he collected the ball on the right and raced free, evading attackers and defenders until he found Francely Lomboto. The attacker, growing in form and confidence as the weeks progress, finished coolly for a vital goal and 2-0 half-time lead.

Treaty battled in the second half and had some half-chances. However, the red card issued to Andrew Spain on the hour mark effectively ended the contest. Subs Steven Healy and Ibrahim Keita combined well in injury time to put the gloss on a professional performance.

United manager John Caulfield was delighted with the win and performance. "I think it was a very controlled and disciplined [performance]. You expect those games to be feisty, but we showed a good bit of composure.

"If you went from our opening day team, we were four down on that. It's great that the lads are coming in. [Conor] O'Keeffe has been magnificent the last few weeks. Maurice [Nugent] did brilliantly. I think he totally dominated the game."

While heaping praise on his squad, Caulfield acknowledged the special influence of keeper Brendan Clarke. "It is huge on the pitch, but also in the dressing room. The confidence he gives the back four allows them to push up and press high."

There is little time for United to rest on their laurels. Another dangerous game awaits tomorrow night with the visit of Athlone Town to Eamonn Deacy Park. The Midlanders have been bolstered this season with several foreign recruits. Incredibly, Aaron Connolly was the only Irish player in their first X1 last weekend in Cobh.

No new recruits has caught the eye more than Frantz Pierrot, who was electric in the return fixture in earlier in the season. That evening, his power and pace, along with Jamar Campion-Hinds and Adam Lennon, caused United real problems. In the end United emerged with a 3-1 win, but will have seen enough to understand a real challenge lies in store tomorrow on the Dyke Road.

Confidence and form should not be an issue. The team has registered 14 wins from 15. Yet the form of chasing Waterford FC, who themselves had a big win last week up at Finn Harps, leaves little margin for error.

Caulfield is acutely aware of tomorrow's challenge. "People may not understand that Athlone has linked up with Valeo FC in Boston, which has now taken over the club. The club is now effectively run from Boston. That's why all these foreign players, mainly Americans, have come in.

"They have brought in some tremendous players and they are full-time. Anyone who underestimates Athlone doesn't know what is going on there. They have brought in Pierrot up front, I think he is the second highest scorer in the league. Campion-Hinds on the wing caused us lots of problems on the wing. Patrick Hickey in the middle is really dominant in the air and a very good footballer."


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