Andrew Dempsey reports from Stradbrook
Cabinteely were left frustrated by First Division basement side Athlone Town on Friday evening as they were held to a one-all draw at Stradbrook by Adrian Carberry’s side.
Athlone took the lead through Ronan Manning’s spot-kick but Christian Lotefa was on hand to level just two minutes later.
After an entertaining first-half the second period failed to live up to much of its promise with a draw a fair result for both teams at the Stradbrook Road venue.
Cabinteely came into Friday night’s encounter at Stradbrook with a point to prove following a dismal spell of recent form.
The Green and Whites have lost their previous four games on the spin and have conceded 13 goals during the same period.
Their most recent defeat was a heavy one, coming against fellow promotion contenders Drogheda United as they fell to a five-one defeat at United Park.
Likewise, Athlone came into the game in a vein of wretched form themselves, a run that has seen the Lissywoolen outfit go winless in the league since July 2019.
From their recent defeat against Bray Wanderers, Athlone made one change, with forward Lee Duffy returning to the starting side after serving a suspension.
Pat Devlin made six changes from Cabo’s defeat in Drogheda as Stephen Kinsella made his first Cabo start.
In an even enough start to proceedings, Cabo went closest to taking an early lead, but defender Jonathan Carlin could only direct his free header over the Athlone bar.
Minutes later, the visitors went close with a chance of their own, but Corey Chambers was on hand to beat away Lee Duffy’s low strike on goal.
And just seconds after that, it was the hosts’ turn to go close. However, Kinsella was unable to see his curling effort nestle in the bottom corner of Aaron Myles’ net.
Following a spell of good play and pressure from Athlone, they took the lead through Ronan Manning’s spot-kick.
However, the spot-kick was awarded in dubious circumstances when it appeared that Chambers cleanly took the ball away from the onrushing Duffy.
Referee Oliver Moran was unmoved by the hosts’ protests as Manning blasted the ball home from twelve yards out.
Moments after, the hosts equalised through Christian Lotefa in the 29th minute. Paul Fox’s free-kick was met by the head of Conor Keeley but it was saved by Myles.
Despite that, Myles could not claw the ball away from danger and there was Lotefa who made no mistake at the back post.
While they may have crumbled after conceding an equaliser, Athlone reacted well and produced two great chances before the break.
Their first opportunity was cleared off the line by Lotefa after a mistake from Chambers. However, Chambers made amends for his error on the stroke of half-time when he denied Jack Reynolds.
Manning found Reynolds with a great ball from deep, but Athlone’s attacking midfielder was denied by the feet of the former Wexford shot-stopper as the sides went in level at the break.
Minutes after the restart, Adrian Carberry’s side went close to retaking the lead through Adam Lennon.
Lennon was denied by a sliding block from Lloyd Buckley as the visitors were nearly caught out on the break from the resulting counter-attack.
Shane Barnes won a corner for Cabo, and it was Keeley who went close, but his header was palmed away from goal by the visitors.
The South Dubliners remained a threat from set-pieces as the half wore on, and it was Keeley who was once again denied by an Athlone body, but his header was cleared off the line by David Brookes.
Fifteen minutes from time the impressive Manning almost gave his side an improbable lead but his cross turned shot on goal was clawed away by Chambers in the Cabinteely goal.
Substitute Dylan Thornton went close for Cabo in the 82nd minute, but he could only volley over the bar.
Late on, Taner Dogan somehow denied his own teammate John Morgan from giving the visitors a late winner before Fox’s headed effort was well saved by Myles in the Athlone goal.
The result sees Cabinteely move up to joint-second with Drogheda United, although they have played a game more than their Boyneside promotion rivals.
Athlone remain in search of their first win in the league since July 2019.
Cabinteely: Corey Chambers; Christian Lotefa (Keith Dalton 80), Conor Keeley, Jonny Carlin, Lloyd Buckley (Mitchell Byrne 55), Paul Fox; Kieran Marty Waters (Robert Dunne 55), Steven Kinsella, Jack Connolly, Alex Aspil (Dylan Thornton 55); Shane Barnes (Dean Casey 65).
Subs not used: Luke Clucas, Benjamin Clark.
Booked: Christian Lotefa (23), Corey Chambers (27), Jonny Carlin (72), Conor Keeley (90), Dylan Thornton (90),
Sent off: None.
Athlone Town: Aaron Myles; David Brookes, Scott Delaney , Tumelo Tlou; Mark Birrane, Taner Dogan, Ciaran Grogan (Evan O'Connor 83), Adam Lennon; Lee Duffy, Ronan Manning, Jack Reynolds (John Morgan 50).
Subs not used: Jordan Carroll, Dean George, Darcy Lawless, Shane Nealon, Evan White.
Sent off: None.
Referee: Oliver Moran.
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Ronan Manning (Athlone Town).