League Report: Athlone Town 0 - 4 Shamrock Rovers II

Fri, Aug 21 2020

Rovers' Brandon Kavanagh (left) challenging for the ball against Athlone Town Credit: Gerry Shanahan (ETPhotos)

Robbie Fahy reports from Lissywoolen

Brandon Kavanagh scored twice and set up another as Shamrock Rovers II got their second win of the season by seeing off Athlone Town 4-0 at Lissywoolen on Friday evening. 

A slow burner on a warm evening in the midlands, the first half failed to ever spark into action. Commentators and pundits often speak of a game of two halves, well this was a half of two chances. 

The first came for Rovers’ leading scorer Thomas Oluwa, his partner in attack Brandon Kavanagh momentarily dropping deep to release him in behind the centre back pairing of Scott Delaney and John Morgan. The young striker advanced on Aaron Myles in the Athlone goal only to over-elaborate and allow Myles to make a routine save.

That move on 24 minutes was the first meaningful attack of the game, prompting a cry of “let’s look like we want to play” from the town netminder. 

The rallying cry didn’t do much to change the flow of the game. Rovers dominated possession but it was all in non-threatening areas. Athlone retreated into their defensive shape and looked to find Ronan Manning, Darren Meenan and Lee Duffy between the lines with little success. 

Athlone’s first and only meaningful shot at goal came three minutes from the break. Good work in winning possession and subsequent vision from Meenan crafted a great opening for Duffy but, much like Oluwa, he got his feet mixed up and Kian Clarke was out sharply to smother from eight yards. 

It was a bright start to the second period by the Tallaght side and Aidan Price’s charges were duly rewarded for their endeavour nine minutes in when the lively looking Kavanagh put them in front. 

Left wing back John Ryan clipped in an innocuous looking diagonal ball which Delaney failed to deal with. Kavanagh pounced on his error and had all the time in the world to deftly place the ball passed a helpless Myles with his left foot. 

That seemed to visibly drain confidence from the midlanders and it wasn’t long before the Hoops doubled their advantage. 

In what turned out to be goal of the game, Shamrock Rovers other standout player Sean Brennan picked up the ball just outside the area on the left before spotting a marauding Max Murphy on the far side. Brennan swiftly switched the play and Murphy decided to take it first time, sending the audacious volley flying into Athlone’s net. 

Just five minutes later and Kavanagh had his brace. He started a deadly counter attack from an Athlone free-kick, playing newly introduced Michael Leddy into the acres of space vacated by the defence.

Leddy’s first attempt at a cross was blocked, but the rebound fell kindly. He made no mistake in finding Kavanagh the second time and one calm swing of the left boot later the net was bulging again. 

Aidan Price’s side were in full flow now, the toll of extended spells of possession from the Tallaght side was evident. Both manager’s rang the changes and the flow of the game disappeared in the final 15 minutes but for one more Rovers attack. 

Another well worked counter sent Adam Wells free down the left, the midfielder showed good composure to get his head up and find the 16-year-old substitute Michael Leddy to complete the rout and give Adrian Carberry a lot to think about ahead of a massive game for the club in the FAI Cup second round against Wexford. 

This match will go down as an example of what Aidan Price’s side are capable of and their season is well and truly running now. They’ll be eyeing an improvement to their current seventh place position and beating fifth placed Longford Town next week in Tallaght would be another boost to that goal as Athlone still await their first win of the season.

Athlone Town: Aaron Myles; Scott Delaney, Evan White, Jack Reynolds, Taner Dogan, John Morgan, Joel Coustrain (Jordan Carr 58), Darren Meenan (Adam Lennon 58), Ronan Manning, Lee Duffy (Dean George 71), Jordan Carroll (Mark Birrane 71). 
Subs not used:  Darcy Lawless, David Brookes, Tumelo Tlou.
Booked: Lee Duffy (26).
Shamrock Rovers II: Kian Clarke; Adam Wells, Sean Callan ©, Jordan Tallon; Max Murphy, Dean McMenamy; Sean Brennan, Brandon Kavanagh (Kevin Zeffi 77), Aaron Bolger (Darragh Nugent 60), John Ryan (Alex Dunne 77); Thomas Oluwa (Michael Leddy 70).
Subs not used: Killian Cahill, Sinclair Armstrong, Peter Adigun.
Booked: Sean Callan (33), John Ryan (55).
Referee:  Alan Patchell. 

Attendance: 0
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Brandon Kavanagh (Shamrock Rovers)