By Gerard Mulreaney (@gerardmulreaney)
Athlone Town kicked of their season with a win, on their brand spanking new AstroTurf pitch, in a highly entertaining 4-2 victory over Wexford FC on Friday night.
Both sides finished in the bottom two places in the SSE Airtricity League First Division for the past two seasons, but following substantial investment in the midlanders this off-season confidence is high that Athlone will be vastly improved this year.
They didn’t get off to the best of starts ho, falling behind after just eight minutes, when Wexford capitalised on an error at the back and Emmet Nugent slipped the ball under goalkeeper Aaron Myles.
The game changed completely just a minute later when Wexford striker Danny Furlong, making his return to the club following 3 years away, inexplicably got himself sent off after kicking an Athlone player.
Two goals in 60 seconds followed as Kaleem Simon and Dean Casey scored. On-loan striker Dean Williams added a third after half-time before the 10-men of Wexford scored from the penalty spot, through Jack Doherty. Athlone sealed the win when Kealan Dillon scored thirteen minutes from time.
Athlone manager Terry Butler was very happy with the win after the game saying, “We played really well and deserved the win. Obviously the sending off changed the way Wexford set up.”
On the red-card, “It was a straight red card for kicking out, it was silly from an experienced player.”
Great effort and determination by all the players last night to win that game. Absolutely delighted with result couldn’t have asked for a better league opener ⚽️⚽️ #CmonTheTown
— Terry butler (@Terrybu6235865) February 23, 2019
On-loan Shamrock Rovers striker Dean Williams has really got off the ground running since arriving in Athlone, scoring the winner in their Leinster Senior Cup victory over Dundalk and followed that up with another goal against Wexford. Butler was pleased for him, “Dean is a great lad, scoring goals, which is important for us. A spell in the First Division will only help him on his career.”
Club captain Aaron Brilly was taken off on the hour mark and I asked Butler if he had an injury, “Aaron was taken off as a tactical change, Josh Hogan gave us more attacking in the final third as they had 10 players, it was obvious approach.”
Athlone now head to Cobh next Friday to take on Stephen Henderson’s side at St Colman’s Park, Cobh losing heavily against Drogheda United in their opening game. Butler said, “We’re looking forward to going to Cobh, it’s always a tough game down there and we will prepare well for the challenge.”
Photo Credit: Athlone Town AFC