Athlone Town have grabbed their first point of the SSE Airtricity LEague Division One campaign after a 1-1 home draw with Finn Harps. The visitors nearly opened the scoring in the first minute when the ball fell to Mark Coyle just outside the box, w
Athlone Town have grabbed their first point of the SSE Airtricity LEague Division One campaign after a 1-1 home draw with Finn Harps.
The visitors nearly opened the scoring in the first minute when the ball fell to Mark Coyle just outside the box, who struck his half-volley just to the far side of the post. It was all Harps from then on as they pinned Athlone back into their own box, with the home side mounting little attacking threat.
The Donegal side were doing most of their damage down the right flank, and right-back Aidan Friel almost made the pressure count when his attempted cross looped over the head of Athlone goalkeeper Nathan Murphy and struck the crossbar.
Their best chance of the opening half came in the 32nd minute after Murphy misjudged a cross, allowing the ball to meet the head of Finn Harps striker John O’Flynn, who's attempt was heroically cleared off the line by Athlone defender Ger Smith.
Athlone started the second half in a much better fashion, with half-time substitute Ollie Hamzat linking up well down the right flank leading to much better ball retention in the final third.
They were rewarded for this fast start in the 55th minute, when the ball was played to Shane Stokes 25 yards out from goal, who took one touch before producing a stunning strike into the top corner leaving the Finn harps goalkeeper with no chance.
From then on Finn Harps began to once again control the game, without creating the volume of chances that we seen in the opening half. They almost equalised in the 74th after B.J. Banda’s header beat Nathan Murphy all ends up in the Athlone goal, only for the ball to rebound off the inside of the post.
However, the visitors would restore parity when a delightful cross from Lee Toland was met by the head of Michael O’Connor, who looped the ball over the helpless Athlone ‘keeper. Despite an end-to-end closing period, neither team managed to create another clear-cut opportunity as the game finished in a 1-1 draw.