Monday 25 September 2017

Rusk miss mars Athlone's new dawn

Athlone Town 0 Bray Wanderers 0

Keith Long's tenure in charge of Athlone Town got off to a mixed start against Bray Wanderers last night, with a draw which should have been a win. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Keith Long's tenure in charge of Athlone Town got off to a mixed start against Bray Wanderers last night, with a draw which should have been a win. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

It has been a long time coming but after 10 defeats and a change in manager Athlone Town have finally claimed their first point of the season.

Aside from the removal of that embarrassing statistic from their CVs, there is also the welcome bonus of knowing they won't enter the record books for making the worst start to a League of Ireland season, a distinction which belongs still to Bray Unknowns.

And yet there was no celebration because one point could have been three. Six minutes remained when Robbie Maloney was penalised for his challenge on Graham Rusk.

With a penalty to Athlone, and a red card to Maloney resulting, Rusk had the opportunity to be the hero. Instead, that accolade went Stephen McGuinness' way after the goalkeeper saved Rusk's penalty.

And so Keith Long's tenure in charge of the midlanders got off to a mixed start. Given all that happened under Mick Cooke, any result here would be seen as a positive. Yet had Rusk scored the new dawn may have been brighter.

Then again, it could also have been worse because Bray had the better of the chances, Dave Scully coming close twice to a first-half goal before Graham Kelly's free-kick struck the post.

Athlone Town – Skinner; McMahon, D Brennan (Hughes 85), Prendergast, Clancy; A Byrne; Marks (S Byrne 72), O'Brien, Dillon, S Brennan (Sweeney 88); Rusk.

Bray Wanderers – McGuinness; Cooney, Webster, Mitchell, Maloney; Scully, Zambra, Kelly (Byrne 84), O'Neill (O'Hanlon 72); Cassidy; Akinade.

Referee – K O'Regan (Kerry).

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