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Athlone Town earned the bragging rights as they claimed all three points against Longford Town in the first midlands derby of the season.
The visitors controlled the game over the course of the 90 minutes. The home side had chances to get something out of the game but lacked in the final third and when they did create opportunities Athlone ‘keeper Aaron Shanahan commanded his goal well.
Longford will also feel hard done by after referee Brendan Kelly turned down two penalty appeals; the first one in the 24th minute was a blatant handball but Kelly refused to award a spot-kick.
For the second week in a row Longford Town manager Alan Gough donned the goalkeeper gloves. Gough is close to signing American keeper Chris Konopka who was part of Bohemians' double-winning squad last season.
The game was a dull and drab affair; the heavy underfoot conditions not helping either side. The visitors were the better side in the first half and created several good chances as they bossed possession. Their first effort on goal came in the fifth minute but Emieka Ominibiko’s shot was deflected out for a corner.
Their dominance paid off in the 18th minute when Thomas McGauley broke the deadlock. A corner from the left was swung in by Brian Cleary and centre-half McGauley powerfully headed home from close range.
This seemed to spur the home side into action as they slowly tried to get back into the game. In the 24th minute Longford had appeals for what looked like a clear-cut penalty turned down by Kelly; Jason McCartney’s shot was blatantly handled in the box by an Athlone defender.
Carmine Russo should have done better for the home side two minutes later but instead of taking a shot first time he took too much out of the ball and the visiting defence were able to clear.
Ex Longford Town player Damien Rushe had a fantastic chance to double his side’s lead five minutes from the break; baring down on goals Rushe had only Longford ‘keeper to beat , but Gough pulled off a great save to deflect the ball out for a corner.
Just before the break Longford defender Jim Sheridan had an excellent chance to draw his side level but his shot from just inside the box was cleared off the line by Athlone defender Robbie Hamm.
In the 63rdnd minute the visitors thought they had got their second goal of the night but Stephen Place’s effort was disallowed for offside. Minutes later Longford substitute Gary Curran had an opportunity but Athlone ‘keeper Aaron Shanahan saved well. Shanahan had a fine game throughout and thwarted the home on several occasions.
Robbie Benson had a glorious chance in the 72nd minute for Athlone but his low drive just went inches wide of the target.
Longford Town: Alan Gough; Ray Kenny, Jim Sheridan, Brian McCarthy, Tom King; Carmen Russo (Michael Lee 72), Stephen Gough (Gary Curran 62), Colm Jinks, Jason McCartney; Adrian Murphy, Derek Glynn.
Subs not used: Brian Murtagh, Owen Hoare, Darragh Concannon.
Booked: McCarthy (71).
Athlone Town: Aaron Shanahan; Robbie Hamm, Thomas McGauley, Des Hope, Brian Cleary; Damien Rushe (Kevin Dunne 90), Robbie Benson, Anthony Hayes (Kieran O'Reilly 67), Emieka Onwubiko (Cathal Joyce 90); Stephen Place, Noel McGhee.
Subs not used: John McGuinness (gk), Padraig Moran.
Booked: Hayes (38), Benson (61), Hope (85), Dunne (90+2).
Referee: Brendan Kelly (Sligo).
Attendance: 700 (estimate).
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