Nathan Boyle . . . who hit two of the goals for Finn Harps
Finn Harps had to come from behind to keep up their great run in the league as they overcame Athlone Town tonight.
Athlone Town 1
Finn Harps 3
On their last visit to Athlone, they left with just a point in a 1-1 draw, but this time they can thank Nathan Boyle, who hit two goals to set them on their way. Overall they were much the better side having most of the possession.
The win keeps their hopes on track for a promotion play-off as they stay in second place in the table, four points behind UCD, who have a game in hand.
In the opening few minutes Finn Harps had the majority of possession without ever really threatening the opposition goal, with most of the game being played in midfield.
Athlone took the lead in the lead in the 9th minute via a close range header from Nika Kalandarishvili, nodding home an excellent Shane Stokes free kick delivery.
Kalandarishvili almost doubled his side’s lead on the half hour mark, with Harps ‘keeper Ciaran Gallagher forced into a smart save down low to prevent what would have been another goal against the run of play.
Harps finally made their pressure pay in the 34th minute, when a scramble in the box resulting from a corner allowed Nathan Boyle to poke the ball home and draw the scores level.
They nearly took the lead five minutes after the interval after defender Jacob Borg was left unmarked in the box, but his glancing header was directed straight at Michael Fogarty in the Athlone goal.
Harps would finally take the lead a few moments later, when Boyle produced a great touch to control the ball after a long diagonal ball into the box. He was allowed far too much space by the Athlone defence before turning the ball home into the bottom corner for his second of the match.
Finn Harps looked comfortable form here on, with Mark Coyle almost doubling their lead with a good effort from the edge area which was turned away by Fogarty.
They would find that insurance goal seven minutes from full time. The ball fell to the feet of captain Keith Cowlan from a corner, with the defender turning and producing a stunning strike into the top corner of the net to seal the three points.
Ollie Horgan was taking charge of his 170th game for the Finn Park side and becomes the third longest serving manager at the club.
Tonight's match also marked the 49th anniversary to the day that Harps played their first ever game in the League of Ireland in 1969. As Bartley Ramsey said in a tweet, it was fitting that they were playing Athlone Town, as they had been elected to the league along side the Midlanders.
ATHLONE TOWN: Michael Fogarty; Aaron Brilly, Victor Edanem (Ciaran Byrne 65), Ian Fletcher, Jamie Broderick, Ciaran Grogan, Josh Hogan, Shane Stokes (Craig Canty 82), Nika Kalandarishvili, Rory McCollough, Geroge Mukete (Ollie Hamzat 76).
FINN HARPS: Ciaran Gallagher, Ciaran Coll (Mark Timlin 85), Jacob Borg, Keith Cowan, Gareth Harkin, Mick Coyle, Mikey Place (Jesse Devers 78), Sam Todd, Nathan Boyle (John O'Flynn 88), John Kavanagh, Oluwatunmise Sobowale.
REFEREE: John McLoughlin