Struggling Athlone Town take on the challenge of promotion chasing Limerick in what promises to be an intriguing fixture in the SSE Airtricity First Division at the Athlone Town Stadium tomorrow evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
Terry Butler’s side were comprehensively swept aside by the high-flying Longford Town in the Midland’s ‘El Clasico’ who ran out 3-1 winners at the City Calling Stadium last Friday night.
The home side hit the front after 15 minutes thanks to a goal from Sam Verdon but Athlone hit back immediately when just 60 seconds later Dean Williams struck to send the away fans into raptures.
Athlone’s delight was short-lived and De Town took a stranglehold on the game and retook the lead just after the half hour with a goal from Dean Byrne and the Longford striker made the game secure with his second goal of the night just eight minutes into the second half.
The Town have been on a horrific run of form having lost 10 of their last 12 matches in all competitions and have been on the end of some heavy defeats against Galway United (4-0) and Bray Wanderers (0-5) with their solitary win coming in a 1-0 win over Bray at the Carlisle Grounds.
Athlone have been extremely poor at the back having conceded 32 goals in those 12 matches and they have kept just one clean sheet during this current spell. The Town have also found goals hard to come by having hit the back of the net just 10 times.
Town manager Terry Butler will have to make do without the services of Darren Meenan and Evan White who are both suspended.
The Super Blues will be looking to make it a hat-trick of league wins in a row when they make the testing trip to the Midlands to try to maintain their push for promotion to the promised land.
The Shannonsiders made it back to back league wins last Friday night with a hard fought and at times nervy 1-0 win over Cabinteely at the Market’s Field.
Cabinteely made things difficult for the home side and the Super Blues fans were never fully comfortable but they frustrated their opponents and ran out narrow winners to complete the double over their rivals for promotion.
The Super Blues made it two wins on the spin in the league having seen off Cobh Ramblers 3-2 in a thriller at St. Colman’s Park the previous week.
Limerick boss Tommy Barrett is not taking Athlone Town likely and expects the home side to put it up to the Super Blues telling the Limerick Leader, “Athlone away, it is going to be tough. All the games in this league are tough. It is going to be difficult for us going up there to Athlone, playing on the astro pitch, but we will give it our best shot.”
Limerick have found themselves dogged by off the pitch speculation concerning potential investment by a consortium with the club having financial difficulties leading to players voting in favour of strike action a fortnight ago.
However, Barrett is hopeful that the issues will be resolved very soon having told www.limerickleader.ie, “(Chairman) Pat O’Sullivan is confident that the issues will be resolved. He has run the club for the last number of years and sorted people out. I’m hoping that it will be sorted. I don’t control the finances, so I can’t really answer for myself, but I am hoping that he can and he said he will, so we have to have faith that he is going to do that and hopefully as soon as possible.”
Referee: Tim Marshall
Athlone Town and Limerick have clashed once already in the league this season with the Super Blues coming out on top with a 2-0 win at the Market’s Field with goals from Shane Tracy and Connor Ellis at the end of March.
The Town and the Super Blues have met each other 17 times competitively since 2011 with Limerick dominating the fixture having won 16 matches while Athlone have managed just a single win during that period.
The Town scored 11 goals in those 17 matches averaging 0.65 per game while Limerick scored 39 goals in those 17 matches averaging 2.29 per game.
Athlone Town are in 9th place in the SSE Airtricity First Division on 10 points with 3 wins, 1 draw and 10 defeats from their 14 matches.
Limerick are in 6th place in the SSE Airtricity First Division on 24 points with 7 wins, 3 draws and 4 defeats from their 14 matches.
Athlone Town 11/4 Draw 5/2 Limerick 4/5
Athlone Town 1-2 Limerick
Suspended: Darren Meenan, Evan White