Athlone Town v Wexford YouthsThu, Sep 13 2012
It’s been two months to forget for the Midlanders as they have endured a nine game winless run during which boss Mick Kerley paid the ultimate price but a change in manager has not seen a change in fortune as they continue to struggle in front of goal.
Performances under Kerley were generally better than the score-lines tended to suggest but the statistic that glares out when looking at their last nine fixtures is that they have only found the net twice, both times at home in games that ended in 1-1 draws.
On the positive side Athlone are still very much in the hunt for fourth spot despite last week’s loss to their main rivals for that position ,Finn Harps, and caretaker manager Padraig Moran is determined that his side will continue to battle to finish as high as they can until the end of the season.
Speaking to the Westmeath Independent he commented:
"Ultimately, there was only a kick of a ball between us and Harps, and we gifted them both goals, but we need to pick ourselves up and produce a better performance against Wexford. I don't want to let the season peter-out and am determined to finish in fourth. The Wexford game gives us a realistic opportunity to get back on track and put a much-needed win on the board,"
Moran will be without a number of key players including top scorer Noel McGhee, who is expected to be out for four weeks with a calf problem, which means that Ian Sweeney, who scored four goals in the U/19’s 4-2 victory over Limerick earlier in the week, may get the chance to partner Mark McGoldrick in attack.
There are also doubts over the participation of Neil Harney, Stephen Last and Barry O'Mahony while Shane Dunne and Kevin Williamson join Sean Skelly on the list of suspended players.
Garvan Broughall and Stephen Relihan, who only recently returned from working in the States, are being considered for selection after proving their fitness in training in recent weeks.
Wexford will be without two players for their re-arranged league fixture against Athlone Town on Friday night. Craig Wall is out injured while Brian Nolan is suspended.
“Brian will be missed”, said Wexford boss, Shane Keegan. “There are three or four who have performed on a regular basis, that have seen them ever present when fit and Brian is one of them. But I am sure the lads will cope without him”.
Wexford have been on a decent run of form in recent weeks, despite losing away to Longford last Saturday, and Keegan believes the spirit in the camp remains positive.
The boys bounced back quickly after the disappointment of the Longford game, we had a really, really good session Monday night and again tonight (Wednesday) – so I don’t think they will be overly affected by last weeks performance”.
Prior to the game in Longford Wexford had recorded two valuable wins on the spin, beating Waterford United 2-1 at the RSC and then hammering SD Galway 4-1 at Ferrycarrig Park.
The Youths upturn in form has coincided with star striker Danny Furlong returning to his dangerous best, netting four times in the wins against Waterford and SD. Indeed, Wexford had scored in eight consecutive league games before drawing a blank in Longford.
With just five games to go, Wexford will be keen to top the mid-table group that includes themselves, Athlone and Finn Harps. Their cause is aided by the fact that they have yet to play Athlone (twice) and Harps, leaving matters very much in their own hands.
Referee: Dave McKeon.
Athlone have met Wexford just twice in the league so far this season. Wexford won the first game 1-0 in Athlone, while the Midlanders returned the compliment, winning 2-1 when they travelled to Wexford.
Wexford’s single goal victory in Lissywoollen in April saw them leapfrog Limerick into second place in the league.
Only Dundalk with eight have scored fewer goals at home in the League of Ireland this season than Athlone who have hit the net only twelve times in Lissywoollen
Athlone 11/10; Draw 9/4; Wexford 2/1.
Athlone 1-2 Wexford.
Athlone Injury News: Noel McGee. Doubtful: Barry O’Mahony, Neil Harney, Stephen Last.
Athlone Suspension News: Shane Dunne, Sean Skelly, Kevin Williamson.
Wexford Injury News: Craig Wall.
Wexford Suspension News: Brian Nolan.