Waterford United 0 - 0 Athlone TownSat, Aug 11 2012
Mike Kerley came back to haunt his former club on Friday night as his Athlone Town side held promotion chasing Waterford United to a 0-0 draw in the RSC. The game was a drab affair that never got going, but both sides create chances to win the game on the night.
Craig Burns returned to the Waterford United defence in place of David Breen who dropped to the bench. Stephen Mulcahy came back into the team in place of the injured Ben Ryan and Willie John Kiely started up front alongside Sean Maguire.
Athlone Town brought Brian McCarthy and Damien Rushe into their back four, while Barry O'Mahony and Sean Skelly started in midfield for the club fifteen points behind their opponents.
After a slow start, Waterford United made progress down the left with Paul Phelan controlling Craig Burns’ long ball from the back, and his ball across goal ended in a free kick on the edge of the box to the home side. Gary Dempsey couldn’t find a way past the wall.
The first strike on target arrived after the quarter hour mark but Pat Jennings easily saved Willie John Kiely’s strike, after a smart turn to create the space for the chance.
Barry O’Mahony fed Sean Scully to cross from the right shortly afterwards for Athlone, but Packie Holden was alert to the danger, collecting ahead of the waiting Mark McGoldrick.
Waterford United had a shout for a penalty as the game approached the half hour, but referee Kevin O’Regan waved play off after Peter White went down in the penalty area after good work from Sean Maguire.
Athlone then had two good chances to get the opening goal. Mark Walsh and Barry O’Mahony teamed up to dispossess Maguire in the middle of the park, but Walsh’s tame effort was easily saved. Holden distributed the ball to full-back Paul Carey but his carelessness allowed McGoldrick in but he fired straight at Holden.
Athlone continued to pressure the home side and Scully’s neat one-two with McGoldrick saw him fire at goal, but again Holden saved easily. The final opportunity of the first half allowed the home side a chance to break the deadlock but Peter White couldn’t keep his 25-yard strike on target.
Mike Kerley’s side had a great chance to go in front ten minutes into the second half as Shane Dunne’s cross from the left for substitute Noel McGee saw him flash his header at goal, but Packie Holden got down smartly to make a good save.
The chances kept coming as three minutes later Peter White should have at least tested Jennings from 10-yards, but his header was off target. Sean Maguire had a chance soon after but he couldn’t keep his header on target after Paul Carey’s cross. Gary Dempsey tested Jennings with a shot from a tight angle but the keeper was always behind his powerful effort.
The Blues were reduced to ten men with eleven minutes remaining when Willie John Kiely was given a straight red card for a very poor challenge on McGoldrick, which almost saw tempers boil over with opposing players having strong words as McGoldrick was treated on the pitch.
Despite the red card, the home side continued to pressure the Athlone penalty area, but the defensive partnership of Joe Woods and Brian McCarthy was holding strong.
Craig Burns had another chance for the home side but once again the 391 spectators saw the chance wasted. Peter White almost grabbed a winner with four minutes left. The midfielder started the move with a ball to the right that found Aidan McGrath. The youngster centred the ball to White but his diving header went agonisingly wide of Jennings’ far post.
Athlone dropped deeper to keep Waterford out but their crowded penalty area could do nothing to stop youngster Sean Maguire with a minute left on the clock. The talented youngster skipped past the challenges of three Athlone defenders but he couldn’t squeeze the ball past Jennings at his near post.
The three minutes of stoppage time couldn’t yield a goal and Athlone Town held on for a well-deserved point. For the home side, the chance to move two points ahead of second placed Longford Town was lost.
Waterford United: Packie Holden; Paul Carey, Craig Burns, Seamus Long, Dylan Mernagh; Stephen Mulcahy (Aidan McGrath 69’), Peter White, Gary Dempsey, Paul Phelan; Willie John Kiely, Sean Maguire.
Subs not used: John Frost, Jamie Cross, Conor Coad, Jack Doherty, David Breen, Robbie Hughes.
Bookings: Long (6), McGrath (77).
Sent Off: WJ Kiely (79).
Athlone Town: Pat Jennings; Damien Rushe, Joe Woods, Brian McCarthy, Kevin Williamson; Sean Skelly (Mark Sherlock 61), Mark Walsh, Barry O’Mahony, Shane Dunne, Brian Gill (Noel McGee 46); Mark McGoldrick.
Subs not used: Ross Kenny, Eric Molloy, Lee Sung.
Bookings: Woods (58).
Referee: Kevin O’Regan.
Man of the Match: Brian McCarthy. A rock at the heart of the Athlone Town defence that stood firm all night.
Brendan White is Extratime News Editor and is responsible for the news section of Extratime.ie. Brendan also covers matches in Dublin and Waterford. You can contact Brendan at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @whitebrendan.