Athlone Town fought back twice at United Park to earn a 2-2 draw in a game against a Drogheda United side who will feel that this was two points lost and not a point gained.
It was Drogheda who looked more threatening in the first half, as they created chance after chance, with Eoin Kirwan almost breaking the deadlock six minutes in as his header from a Wixted cross went just wide.
The home side continued to push forward and had a number of efforts from Jake Hyland, Eoin Kirwan, Aaron Ashe and Sean Thornton go either just wide or saved easily by Moran.
The breakthrough for the home side came 37 minutes in as a superb cross from Colm Deasy found Sean Thornton at the back post and he headed home to make it 1-0 to Drogheda. However, Thornton collided with Athlone goalkeeper Moran while scoring the goal and ended up being stretchered off with what looked like a leg injury.
Athlone began to come more into the game around the hour mark, following the introduction of the influential Conor Barry. However, the away side were perhaps lucky to finish the game with 11 men as a tackle and reaction afterwards from Marco Chindea on Aaron Molloy had the crowd screaming for a red, a yellow was shown by referee Hennessey.
Minutes later, Athlone were level as a ball whipped in from the right was headed home by Conor Barry. Straight away, Drogheda made a change with Marc Griffin coming on to make his debut following a long injury lay off. The two sides began to cancel each other out and it wasn’t until inside the last 10 minutes when the game reignited.
Drogheda went on the attack and following a barrage of corners, they finally got their goal. A great move was started by Mark Doyle who managed to get the ball through to Griffin. Griffin flicked the ball around his opponent before crossing to Hyland who smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
Three added minutes was the time shown by the fourth official but Athlone needed just one to draw level again. First, a cross from the right by Marco Chindea hit the crossbar. However, Athlone immediately attacked again and a long ball from Conor Barry found Chindea in space and he side footed the ball between the legs of Patrick Dunican.
A number of very good performances in this game, from both sides. For the home side, the stand outs were that of the hardworking Jake Hyland, who seemed to be at the centre of most of Drogheda’s good play and the superb Niall Cooney who put in a brilliant defensive display. As for the visitors, it was the substitute Conor Barry who made the difference, grabbing a goal and an assist as Athlone fought back to earn a point.
What Happens Next?
Next up for Drogheda is an EA Sports Cup tie at home to non-league Bluebell United on Monday evening while Athlone have a week to wait until their next game as they received a bye in the cup. Their next game will be at home to Limerick in the league next Saturday.
Drogheda United: Dunican; Deasy, Cooney, Gallagher, Dunne; Wixted (Griffin 68’), Molloy, Thornton (Brennan 41’), Hyland, Kirwan; Ashe (M. Doyle 84’).
Unused Subs: Stephen McGuinness, Lloyd Buckley, Ken Costello, Joe Jackson.
Athlone Town: Moran; Douglas, Farragher, Tuite, Fletcher; Chindea, Feeney, Cassidy, Kelly (Dixon 74’); Onwubiko (O’Sullivan 88’), Purdy (Barry 58’)
Unused Subs: Sean Nolan, Daryl Carrigy, Daniel Molloy, Cian O’Sullivan.
Gerard Grimes, Pundit Arena.