CORK CITY 3 ATHLONE TOWN 1
New Athlone manager, Paul Doolin, failed to make it back to back wins when beaten by Cork City at Turners Cross last Friday night.
A shocking opening half display from the visitors saw them trail at the break by three goals to nil. A goal early in the second half from Kurtis Byrne raised hopes but City held on to move ahead of Athlone on the league table on goal difference.
Doolin’s men got off to the worst possible start as they conceded twice in the opening six minutes, City opening the scoring after just two minutes.
A long throw in from the right by Cian Bargary was not cleared and Barry Coffey forced the ball home from close range and soon after, Dylan McGlade’s shot was pushed behind for the first corner kick.
City then doubled their lead with six minutes gone. Killian Cantwell’s back pass was weak and it allowed Cian Murphy to nip in and fire a low shot past the helpless Micheal Schlingermann.
The visitors could easily have been further behind after 21 minutes. Murphy on the right set up McGlade but he scooped the ball over the bar. What followed next from the winger was astonishing, as he cut in from the left on 26 minutes and fired a rocket like shot to the roof of the net.
The visitors were poor and had their first chance when James Doona earned a corner. A further corner was earned by Doona while the only other chance came on the stroke of half time, the recalled Lee Duffy sending in a cross from the right which cleared the bar without seriously troubling the home defence. In stoppage time, Ronan Hurley saw his shot blocked by Schlingermann.
Athlone looked to restore some pride when play resumed. A goal after just two minutes did give some hope. Byrne cut the lead when his shot sneaked in at the far post.
The three goal lead could easily have been restored when Murphy’s shot was blocked behind. Coffey had two further chances to add to his goal tally but Athlone came back to life up to the hour mark when three corners were earned in quick succession. Glen McAuley’s shot was spilled by the keeper and then put behind before an Athlone player could pounce.
Byrne had another chance to reduce the deficit but saw his shot put behind for another corner. Two more corners were to follow for Athlone with McAuley firing wide from long range.
Athlone showed more fight during the second half but the response faltered and Byrne had the final Town chance after 82 minutes when his free kick was blocked by Cork keeper Mark McNulty.
City ended the game on the attack through McGlade. The number seven fired over while another strike saw the keeper collect. Substitute Beineon O’Brien had the last chance for Cork but the finish was poor as the ball cleared the bar.
A move into the final play-off spots now looks to be beyond both teams.