Galway United got their first win of the SSE Airtricity League First Division season as a Mikey Place brace gave them a comprehensive 4-1 win away to Athlone Town on Friday night.
The result leaves the Middlanders rooted to the bottom of the table, four points off Wexford.
Tribesman boss John Caulfield will be delighted to pick up three points from his first league game in charge, although his opposite number Adrian Carberry will feel somewhat hard done by with some of the decisions from referee Oliver Moran.
A scrappy start from both sides exploded into life after twenty minutes.
An innocuous looking tangling of legs in the Athlone area sent Ciaran Grogan and Galway striker Enda Curran tumbling to the ground. All eyes flashed to the referee who was duly pointing to the spot.
Curran dusted himself off to send Myles the wrong way and send the westerners in front.
Athlone didn’t drop their heads and showed they weren’t going down without a fight when a nicely worked move just minutes later released Lee Duffy down the left, he clipped a ball to the far post to winger Adam Lennon, but he could only blaze over from 12 yards following a nice first touch.
Unfortunately for the hosts that fighting spirit would cost them ten minutes from the break. After some industrious work to win a corner from what appeared a lost cause, Duffy appeared to have some choice words for the referee, earning a yellow card for dissent.
In a moment he’ll want back he continued his protestations further, clearly going too far in the mind of Moran who quickly brandished a red card and sent the striker for a very early bath. The hosts would now have to negotiate the remaining 55 minutes with 10 men.
It was not until the second half however until the visitors would take advantage.
Galway kept Athlone waiting for about five minutes before the restart, but it was immediately obvious that it was time well spent by Caulfield.
Just three minutes into the second half Stephen Cristopher created the best opening of the game, cutting into the box from the left wing and stinging the hands of Myles in the Athlone goal with a low shot.
The pattern of the game had changed noticeably. The visitors took over control of possession and Athlone were clearly targeting a set piece to get themselves level.
Their defensive discipline paid off for the next quarter of an hour as they stifled a number of tribesmen attacks by sitting deeper and cutting down the space in behind.
That resilience was finally broken in anti-climactic fashion in the 64th minute by Mikey Place.
Christopher again with some good work down the left hand side, evading Tumelo Tlou before lofting an inviting cross to the back post.
Three men jumped for it, but the final touch was delicately off the head of place and past the stubborn Myles.
That was the moment that broke Athlone hearts and within four minutes they were three behind.
The influential Shane Duggan striding forward to take a pot shot from all of 30 yards out, it was too hot to handle for Myles and the rebound fell to half-time substitute Vinny Faherty, who made no mistake from inside the area.
The confidence was flowing through Caulfield’s side now and they bagged a fourth and final goal when substitute Carlton Ubaezuonu went on a mazy run down the left hand side, beating his man and sending a low cross into the area.
In a replica of his first goal, Mikey Place was again at the back post to tap home following a ricochet off a flailing Delaney at the heart of the Middlanders defence.
The assistant’s flag shot up to indicate offside but in a move not witnessed very often, out came Moran from the middle of the pitch to overrule the linesman and award the goal, much to the frustration of the home side-line.
Athlone did nick a consolation goal through a penalty from Dundalk loanee Taner Dogan 12 minutes from time but by this point Galway had dropped into cruise control and in truth it was another case of the mental errors and ill-discipline which have plagued the club since the resumption costing them dearly.
John Caulfield will be happy with the 20 minute spell in which his side made the man advantage count and the fact the managed to all but double their paltry goal tally from five to nine for the season.
However, he will also be frustrated with the closing 15 minutes in which they conceded the initiative to the hosts and allowed them to build momentum before the goal.
It was a much needed first league win for the tribesmen and they’ll now look forward to a trip to face 4th placed UCD in Belfield on Monday with renewed confidence.
For Athlone their long winless streak in the first division continues, you have to go back 14 months for the last time they came out on top. It doesn’t get any easier for them.
They will travel to the seaside to take on a Bray Wanderers team fresh off the back of a three goal victory over pace setters Cabinteely.
Athlone Town: Aaron Myles; Tumelo Tlou, Ciaran Grogan, Scott Delaney, David Brookes; Mark Birrane, Taner Dogan (Jordan Carroll 87), Adam Lennon (Dean George 74), Jack Reynolds (Bradley Okaidja 89); Lee Duffy, Ronan Manning (Jordan Carr 74).
Subs not used: Darcy Lawless, John Morgan, Evan O'Connor,
Booked: Lee Duffy (35), Lee Duffy (35).
Sent off: Lee Duffy (35).
Galway United: Kevin Horgan; Christopher Horgan, Kevin Farragher, Killian Brouder, Marc Ludden; Maurice Nugent (Timmy Molloy 63), Shane Duggan, Conor Barry (Donal Higgins 72); Mikey Place (Francely Lomboto 77), Enda Curran (Vinny Faherty 46), Stephen Christopher (Carlton Ubaezuonu 72).
Subs not used: Matthew Connor, Timo Parthoens.
Booked: Stephen Christopher (42) ,Maurice Nugent (59).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Oliver Moran.
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Mikey Place (Galway United).
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