Shelbourne managed a return to winning ways by beating Athlone Town 3-0 this evening in Tolka Park. Two first half goals by the impressive Carl Walshe helped to secure Shels a first win since July and arrested their poor run of results. A second half penalty by Jamie Doyle secured the win.
The game got under way amid a definite sense of unease among the home supporters. Shelbourne had managed just a solitary point from their last five league games and Athlone, for their part, had one win to their name after five consecutive losses. The opening exchanges did little to lift the spirits of the home crowd as it was a very scrappy affair with both sides struggling to maintain possession.
Eventually Shelbourne managed to gain a foothold in midfield and settled into the contest. The first chance of the game came from a set piece when a dangerous in swinging corner was met by Shelbourne’s captain Daire Doyle but his header flashed just wide from close range. Shelbourne were beginning to look like the more impressive side and Dylan Kavanagh was looking particularly dangerous marauding down the left wing.
Athlone’s first chance arrived when an excellent through ball by Ryan Gaffey sent Conor Barry through on goal. Barry managed to produce a low shot that just trailed wide with Jack Brady in the Shelbourne goal scrambling across to cover. Barry and Gaffey were looking dangerous up front for Athlone as their link up play was proving an issue for the Shelbourne defence. Unfortunately for Colin Fortune’s side Barry had to be replaced after 30 minutes due to a knee injury and it offered the Shelbourne rearguard some respite.
The breakthrough eventually came after 35 minutes. Shelbourne who had looked dangerous from set pieces all night took the lead through a looping Carl Walshe header. Athlone failed to deal with a Shel’s corner and Walshe found space inside the box to produce a clinical finish past Dylan Owens.
Shelbourne’s second goal was a calamity of errors. A long innocuous ball out of defence caused panic in the Athlone back line. Jack Quinn allowed the ball to bounce and then subsequently lost his footing to allow Walshe a clear run on goal. The Shelbourne number 20 was the calmest man on the field and produced a neat finish past the onrushing Owens Shelbourne went into the break with a deserved 2 goal cushion.
The second half assumed a similar pattern and saw Shelbourne comfortably controlling possession with Cian Kavanagh and Daire Doyle particularly impressive in the centre of the park. The result was sealed when a brilliant through ball by Kavanagh was seized upon by Lorcan Shannon who burst into the penalty area and was brought to ground by a clumsy sliding challenge. The penalty was awarded and Jamie Doyle slotted home low to the right corner.
Owen Heary will have been pleased by how his team managed to see out the rest of the game offering Athlone very few chances for a consolation goal. It is now two clean sheets in a row for Shelbourne and means they leapfrog Waterford into 5th in the table. Athlone remain second from bottom and will be disappointed by their performance with sloppy defending putting pay to any chances they may have had of building on their win last time out. The home support will be hoping their side can take some momentum from this victory and see out the remainder of the season in a positive manner.
Shelbourne: Jack Brady, Adam O’Connor, Reece McEnteer, Aidan Collins (James Brown 70), Jack Tuite, Daire Doyle, Lorcan Shannon (Dylan Grimes 77), Cian Kavanagh (Michael Murphy 83), Dylan Kavanagh, Carl Walshe, Jamie Doyle
Subs Not Used: Greg Murray, Adam Evans, Gavin Boyne, Ryan Robinson
Booked: C. Kavanagh (80), Doyle (87)
Athlone Town: Dylan Owens, Danny Molloy, David Brookes, Jack Quinn (Chris Reid 52), Ian Fletcher, Cormac Rafftery, Claudio Silva (Micheal Monaghan 75), Colm Coss, Ryan Gaffey, Conor Barry (Aidan Byrne 30), Sean McGrane
Subs Not Used: Iohris Oyeniyi, Roy King
Referee: Michael O’Connor
Attendance: 600 (estimate)
Extratime Man of the Match: Carl Walshe (Shelbourne)