Cobh Ramblers have gone top of the table having maintained their unbeaten start to the 2017 SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign with a comfortable 5-1 victory over Athlone Town at St. Colman’s Park on Saturday.
Ramblers’ only change from their draw with Shelbourne saw Scott McCarthy come in for Dean Swords who was injured. McCarthy made an impact when he was fouled in the Athlone box on the half hour. Cobh skipper Chris McCarthy converted the resulting spot kick, low to the keeper’s right.
That was McCarthy’s second such conversion inside two minutes. Just moments before, Karl Caulfield had sent Ross Mann through. The ex-Limerick striker was upended by Athlone keeper Igor Lobuts. That resulted in McCarthy’s first successful spot kick, low to keeper’s left.
At 2-0, Ramblers were cruising and Mann might have made it three shortly before half-time. Anthony O’Donnell’s clever throw-in released the 21-year-old front man and his shot rebounded into play from the upright. Ben O’Riordan had earlier tested the Athlone woodwork when his 11th minute header hit the crossbar.
It didn’t get any better for the visitors after half-time. The impressive Ross Mann played an exquisite cross field pass to Stephen Christopher on 62 minutes. Christopher took the ball in his stride and superbly lobbed Lobuts to put Ramblers 3-0 ahead.
New signing from Cork City, Cian Coleman started on the bench, but he came on for a comfortable debut in the second half, replacing skipper Chris McCarthy, the two-goal penalty hero. And the ex-Cork City under 19 star helped himself to a debut goal, heading home an 83rd minute cross from Anthony O’Donnell.
A late blunder by Lobuts gifted Stephen Christopher his second of the day. The Athlone netminder allowed a back pass to elude him and Christopher tapped the ball in.
It was fourth against third when the match kicked-off but Stephen Henderson’s men now jump into top spot ahead of Waterford and UCD.
Athlone fielded their new Uruguayan acquisition Walter Invernizzi but the striker failed to make an impact as Ramblers romped to a comfortable win.
Ethan Keogh’s late score was scant consolation for The Town who drop at least to fourth. Ramblers conceded late for the third home match in a row but unlike the Wexford and Shels matches, it had no bearing on the result.
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt; Shane Lowth (Charlie Fleming 79), Ben O’Riordan, James McSweeney, Anthony O’Donnell; Karl Caulfield, Chris McCarthy (Cian Coleman 65), Craig Donnellan; Stephen Christopher, Scott McCarthy; Ross Mann (Matthew Whelan 66).
Subs not used: Michael Sadys (gk), Darren Murphy, Jason Abbott, Kyle McNamara.
Booked: Chris McCarthy (35), Craig Donnellan (70).
Athlone Town: Igors Labuts; Frederico Hernandez, Kirilis Grigorovs, Cormac Raftery, David Brookes (Ryan Gaffey 87); Val Feeney (Jason Lyons 55), Dragos Sfrijan, Colm Coss, Jose Viegas; Walter Invernizzi, Conor Barry (Ethan Keogh 69).
Subs not used: Conor Gleeson (gk), Ian Dempsey, Joe Maloney, Roy King.
Booked: Val Feeney (36), Kirilis Grigorovs (82).
Referee: David Berry.
Attendance: 400 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Chris McCarthy (Cobh Ramblers).