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Goalkeeper Danny Bolger made his Wexford FC bow in this even encounter in Lissywollen on Friday evening where Athlone's new signing Enda Curran equalised for the home side after Dean Kelly had given Wexford the lead on the hour mark.

Wexford should have been ahead inside the opening minute of the game. After great work inside the Athlone penalty area by Aaron Dobbs, he played the ball across goal. Dean Kelly was on the end of the pass, and with the goal at his mercy, only 3 yards out, he managed to hit it straight at goalkeeper Igor Labuts. Kelly struck the ball well, so any kind of mis-kick would surely have resulted in an opening goal. As the ball was partially cleared, it fell to Thomas Croke 20 yards out, but his low driven shot was just wide.

Ethanda Nkololo was a thorn in the Wexford side all evening. His pace down the right hand side of the pitch was causing AJ Lehane all kinds of problems. After 12 minutes he worked his way through on goal, but fortunately for Wexford, his low shot was wide. 10 minutes later, he was causing problems again. This time, his cross from the right hand side was met at the back post by Dragos Sfrijan, but his half volley went high and wide.

Just before half time, there were chances for both teams to break the deadlock. First up for Athlone, a dangerous curling free kick was whipped to the back post, but Enda Curran's shot struck the post and bounced to safety. Then at the other end of the pitch, Eoin Porter's cross from the Wexford right was met by the head of the onrushing Thomas Croke, but he also hit the woodwork.

It took until the 55th minute for Danny Bolger to have to make his first save. The lively Nkololo picked the ball up 20 yards from goal and his dipping shot was destined for the bottom corner before the outstretched arm of Bolger was able to turn the ball around the post and away to safety.

Just 5 minutes later though, Wexford had the lead that their second half play had deserved. The goalkick from Bolger was won in the air by Eoin Porter and his header fell at the feet of Aaron Dobbs. Dobbs started making moves towards goal and support quickly arrived from Dean Kelly. At the perfect moment, Dobbs played the ball ahead of Kelly and the young Carlow man was able to run on to the pass and finish low in to the bottom corner. It was in truth no more than the visitors deserved after a strong opening 15 second half minutes.

Athlone lifted the tempo in the last 20 minutes. Enda Curran was now making his presence felt. His through ball for Liam McCartan nearly paid dividends, but Lehane got back and managed to force the young midfielder wide of goal.

With 10 minutes to go, Athlone finally got their equaliser through an Enda Curran penalty. As Athlone tried to work the ball in to the middle from the left, the ball took a deflection off of Conor Dunne. Dunne, in trying to save the corner, kept the ball in play but directed it in to the penalty area. As Mikey Byrne tried to take control of the ball, substitute Peter Walsh ran across the front of him and went down claiming contact. Referee Paula Brady pointed to the spot and Enda Curran made no mistake.

There was still time for Wexford to try and claim all 3 points however. Sean Hurley broke down the left hand side. The Athlone goalkeeper came rushing from his goal to meet to winger, but Hurley knocked the ball past him and got to the byline. With Labuts still stranded out towards the sideline, Hurley's cross in to the middle was met by the head of Danny Doyle, but the ball once again struck the woodwork and bounced over.

In injury time, Athlone captain Niall Scullion was shown a second yellow card for a trip on Dean George, but it was so late in the game, there was no opportunity for Wexford to make their one man advantage count.

Attendance: 150 (est.)

Athlone Town: Igor Labuts, Niall Scullion, David Brookes, Stephen Walsh, Cormac Raftery, Rob Spelman (Ryan Gaffey, 29), Dragos Sfrijan, Liam McCartan (Claudio Silva, 71), Enda Curran, Sean McGrane (Peter Walsh, 77), Ethanda Nkololo. Not used: Conor Gleeson, Jason Lyons, Joe Carmody, Owen Folan.

Wexford FC: Danny Bolger, Conor Dunne, AJ Lehane, Ross Kenny, Owen McCormack, Thomas Croke (Danny Doyle, 77), Eoin Porter, Mikey Byrne, Aaron Dobbs, Dean Kelly, Sean Hurley (Dean George, 84). Not used: Michael Walsh, Craig McCabe, Andrew O'Connor, Adam O'Rourke, Conor Sutton.

Referee: Paula Brady

 

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