FINN HARPS’ troubles on the road continued on Friday night when two second half goals from in-form Noel McGee were enough to give Athlone Town the victory.
Athlone Town 2
Finn Harps 0
The Athlone striker - who has made a habit of scoring against the Donegal men over the years - struck twice in the space of eight minutes to hand Harps their second defeat in three.
And once again, Felix Healy found himself wondering how his team had lost a game in which they’d created enough chances to win easily. The Director of Football said his team should have been out of sight by the time Athlone Town struck for their opener in the early stages of the second half. “We had created a number of good chances before that and then missed a sitter,” he said.
“Then they went up the field and scored themselves. It was one of those nights.”
The ‘sitter’ that Healy referred to was a wonderful opportunity that fell to Blain Curtis who after having his shot saved, put the rebound wide of an empty net. Within seconds, Athlone broke the deadlock at the other end with Harps claiming an opposition player had handled the ball in the lead up to the goal.
“In fairness to the lad he scored a brilliant free kick for the second but even at that, it was a free kick we shouldn’t have conceded,” Healy added.
The Harps boss said his team had played well and coped against a big, strong, physical side. “They played a 4-1-4-1 formation and we were well able for them,” he said.
“We had chances to go in front and even after we went 2-0 behind, we had more chances to get back into the game.
“The annoying thing was giving away those goals, and the silly free kick but we had enough chances ourselves to have won comfortably.”
The defeat leaves Harps in the bottom three in Division One and with leaders Longford Town also winning on Friday night, Felix Healy’s side are already six points off the top of the table.
Healy had gone with the same starting eleven from the win against Mervue the previous weekend but worryingly, Stephen O’Donnell was again forced off early because of an ongoing toe injury.
The change was made at half time with Ciaran Greene introduced for the visitors who had coped well with whatever Athlone had thrown at them in that first half.
Both teams created a number of good openings with Kevin McHugh and Curtis going closest for the visitors. Athlone punished Harps for those missed chances on 68 minutes when McGee broke the deadlock.
The Athlone captain sealed the win soon after when he dispatched a precision free-kick over the wall and into the back of the net.
Athlone Town: Pat Jennings, Joe Woods, Ross Kenny, Tommy Barrett (Paul Danaher 32), Brian McCarthy, Mark Walshe (Kevin Williamson 15), Darren Coleman, Jason Hughes, Garvan Broughall (Niall Scullion 86), Mark Sherlock, Noel McGee.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, James Doherty, Ciaran Coll, Aaron O’Hagan, Tommy McMonagle, Hugh Carlin (Tommy Bonnar 73), Adam Clarke, Tommy McBride, Blain Curtis, Kevin McHugh, Stephen O’Donnell (Ciaran Greene half-time).
Referee: Adriano Reale