Athlone Town manager Aaron Callaghan was left ruing some defensive mistakes, as his side suffered a 3-1 defeat to UCD in their opening home game of the 2018 Airtricity League First Division. Having entered half-time at 0-0 after some excellent saves
Athlone Town manager Aaron Callaghan was left ruing some defensive mistakes, as his side suffered a 3-1 defeat to UCD in their opening home game of the 2018 Airtricity League First Division.
Having entered half-time at 0-0 after some excellent saves from goalkeeper Nathan Murphy, Athlone were on course to earn their first points of the season.
However, a Georgie Kelly goal in the 49th minute dampened those hopes, while Kelly would go on to grab his second to double his side’s lead.
Callaghan believes that his side came up against a more experienced team on the day, but defensive lapses cost his side.
“We played a very good side I have to say in UCD, who have been working together for the last three or four years, and it showed," said Callaghan.
“In saying that, I think we conceded too many sloppy goals, and I think that’s been the difference between the teams.
“The first goal changed the game for them. It was a poor goal from our point of view, we allowed the cross to come into the box and hit was a sloppy goal.”
The Athlone manager says his side are still gelling after a difficult build-up to the season, and their has been signs of improvement.
“We are still in pre-season mode. That’s our third pre-season game really, because we didn’t have a pre-season with all the trial games we had to get teams in.
“So a big improvement on the last two games. A lot more players getting game time, which they haven't been doing.”
Athlone managed to get themselves back into the game in the 89th minute, when centre-back Ger Smith found himself in space at the edge of the area, before finishing neatly into the net.
UCD’s Yoyo Mahdy grabbed a third shortly after to secure the points, but the Athlone boss believes this was a result of his side’s attempt to capture a draw from the game.
“We threw caution to the win for the last two or three minutes, and I felt a little hard done by when they scored on the break, albeit it was a poor goal from our point again.”
After an improved performance in this game, Callaghan believes that his team are on the right track, as long as they continue to work.
“We’ve asked these players to try and attack training to try and improve individually, and if we improve them individually then hopefully we can improve them collectively.”