Drogheda United look to keep their unbeaten start to the season intact as they host Alan Mathews’ Athlone Town at United Park this evening.
The home side come into this game off the back of a hard-earned point from a 1-1 draw in Cobh last Saturday. The Boynesiders had found themselves ahead in the first half through a penalty scored by their captain Sean Thornton but Cobh equalised in the second half through their skipper Shane O’Connor, minutes after Drogheda were reduced to ten men following a red card shown to striker Liam Donnelly.
Speaking to droghedaunited.ie, Drogheda manager Pete Mahon said he was delighted with his side’s performance for the first hour but felt that they were punished for not taking their chances in the first half.
“I was delighted with our performance for the first hour of the game, I thought we passed the ball very well and gave Cobh a lot of problems out wide but we struggled with the last third of the game once they started pumping balls into the box.
“The game also became very physical and we missed a couple of great chances to double our lead on the break and we were punished for not taking them.
“Once the red card and the equaliser went in, we really had to dig in for the draw and credit to Paddy Dunican who made a fantastic save late on.”
Mahon also said that he had no complaints with the red card shown to Donnelly but admitted he felt Cobh should have been reduced to ten earlier on following Evan Galvin’s bad challenge on Sean Thornton.
“It was a very physical game and we felt that Cobh were fortunate not to be a man down earlier following a shocking challenge on Sean Thornton but that doesn’t excuse what happened later on.”
Speaking about the game, Mahon says he expects tonight’s game to “have some bite to it” with a number of players from both sides, and Athlone manager Alan Mathews, facing their former club.
“It’s going to be a difficult game as I’m sure Athlone will be champing at the bit having not a played in a fortnight but every game in this league is a challenge and we need to make sure we are up for it.”
In team news, Drogheda will be without the suspended Liam Donnelly and the injured Sam O’Connor, who limped off against Cobh last weekend. Marc Griffin also remains short of match fitness meaning Drogheda will be without their first, second and third choice strikers for this game. However, Sean Brennan and Lloyd Buckley are both available after recovering from injuries.
As for the visitors, Athlone kicked off their First Division campaign with a 2-1 defeat away to Cabinteely. Mathews’ side are yet to play a home game as their match against Shelbourne last week was firstly delayed and then postponed due to floodlight failure at Athlone Town Stadium.
In team news, Athlone will remain without Simon Dixon due to a quad injury while the trio of Conor Dunne, Cian O’Sullivan and Val Feeney are doubtful through injury. In more positive news, Conor Barry is expected to return following a hamstring injury.
Injured: Marc Griffin (not match fit), Sam O’Connor
Suspended: Liam Donnelly
Injured: Simon Dixon (quad)
Doubtful: Conor Dunne, Cian O’Sullivan and Val Feeney
Last Two Meetings
League, 5 Sept 2014: Drogheda United 1-1 Athlone Town.
League, 13 June 2014: Athlone Town 6-0 Drogheda United.
Drogheda United 8/11, Draw 13/5, Athlone Town 4/1.
United Park, 7:45pm.
Gerard Grimes, Pundit Arena