Date: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25, 2010
Venue: Athlone Town Stadium
Foley’s spot-kick came 11 minutes from the end when referee Rob Rogers deemed that Stephen Paisley’s shot had hit the arm of an Athlone player in a crowded box. The second half substitute stepped up to take the penalty and coolly slotted it past Athlone keeper Michael Schlingermann.
After waiting for what seemed like forever for the opening goal we had to wait just two minutes for Shels to double their advantage; Marc Hughes hit a cracking strike that flew in past Schlingerman.
With Derry City, Waterford Utd and Cork City all winning the previous night it was up to Shels to show that they were very much in the promotion battle. With five games to go there is very little separating the top sides and it looks like this First Division and promotion race will go right down to the wire.
Shels are just two points off third place Waterford Utd but they have two massive games to come in the next two weeks; at home to Cork City and away to leaders Derry City. Those games could have a huge bearing on the Reds season.
The visitors dominated the game from start to finish with Athlone Town offering very little. For all their dominance though Shels didn’t create too many scoring chances and the home side were content in sitting back and soaking up the pressure.
It was a drab and dour contest with Shels the only team playing football. They started the game well and had the first effort on goal as early as the second minute; full-back Sean Byrne broke down the wing and decided to take a shot but unfortunately he dragged his shot wide of Schlingermann’s goals.
Two minutes later and Shels had another chance; this time striker Brian Farrell got in ahead of Athlone defender Paddy Collins but his attempted lob bounced wide.
Shels continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession but failed to create many chances of note. In the 26th minute they had another effort on goal; Farrell received a neat pass from David Cassidy but put his effort wide. For all the chances he had he should’ve done a lot better with them.
Claims for what looked like handball in the Athlone box were waved away by referee Rob Rogers two minutes later. Shels Captain David McGill tried to remonstrate with the match official and earned himself a yellow card.
Farrell had another chance in the 32nd minute but blasted over David Cassidy’s right-wing corner. It really wasn’t the striker’s night. Shels started the second half with the same venom as the first. Nine minutes after the restart Farrell’s effort was cleared on the line as the home side lived nervously. Ryan McEvoy headed over for Athlone minutes later and it was as good as it would get for the home side.
Alan Mathews decided to ring the changes and introduced Mark Leech and Eric Foley and both players made a difference. Shels continued to press for the opening goal and in the 75th minute they thought they had finally broken the deadlock but Paisley’s effort was ruled out for an apparent foul on Schlingermann.
Four minutes later though they were to grab the opening goal; Paisley was making himself busy and his shot hit the arm of an Athlone defender in a crowded box and the referee pointed straight to the spot. Up stepped Foley and he made no mistake.
Two minutes later Hughes doubled Shels’ advantage firing a fantastic strike past the Athlone netminder. It was no more than they deserved.
With no way back for Athone, Shels saw out the last few minutes with relative ease. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks in the First Division.
Athlone Town: Michael Schlingermann, Mark Nolan, Paddy Collins, David Breen, Eoghan O’Shea, Jason Hughes (Daniel O’Reilly 89), Gareth Kenna, Denis Moran, Shane Fitzgerald (Stephen Relihan 8), Ryan McEvoy, Andy Haran.
Subs not used: Ronan Stack, Kieran Maloney and Scott Gaynor (GK).
Yellow card: Moran 56
Shelbourne: Dean Delaney, Michael Coburn, Ian Ryan, Stephen Paisley, Sean Byrne, David McGill, Paul Shiels, David Cassidy, Ray Scully (Eric Foley 70), Brian Farrell (Mark Leech 63), Marc Hughes.
Subs not used: Stephen Quigley, Gareth Whelan and Steve Williams (GK).
Yellow card: McGill 28.
Referee: Rob Rogers