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Sweeney's equaliser keeps Athlone survival hopes alive

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Athlone Town manager Keith Long saw his seide secure a point against Drogheda United to keep their survival hopes alive. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Athlone Town manager Keith Long saw his seide secure a point against Drogheda United to keep their survival hopes alive. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Athlone Town manager Keith Long saw his seide secure a point against Drogheda United to keep their survival hopes alive. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Ian Sweeney scored a priceless equaliser to keep Athlone's survival hopes alive.

Trailing 1-0 deep into injury time, Sweeney arrived late into the box to fire in a crucial strike which reduces the gap between Athlone and second-bottom UCD to three points.

And it was no more than the Midlanders deserved. Dominant in the second half, they remained behind courtesy of Micheal Schlingermann's brilliance in the Drogheda goal.

Plus there was the small matter of Gavin Holohan's superb opening goal for Drogheda.

That came after 29 minutes, after Gary O'Neill picked out Cathal Brady on the right before the winger crossed to the onrushing Holohan to guide his shot past Ryan Coulter. Drogheda looked on course to victory. It was not to be.

Athlone fought back and came close to an equaliser on 37 minutes,when a superb counter-attack ended with Kealan Dillon's shot going wide.

Philly Gorman was unlucky not to have a penalty, Dillon equally as unfortunate not to score from a fine 25-yard volley which Schlingermann held impressively.

Can Athlone hold on to their Premier Division status for another year? This result will have helped. UCD, Bray and safety aren't far away.

Drogheda United: Schlingermann; Doyle, McNally, Andrews, Grimes; C Brady, G Brady (Crowley 83), Daly, McGlynn (Maher 87); Holohan; O'Neill (O'Brien 65).

Athlone Town: Coulter; Shorthall, Prendergast, A Byrne, Knight; Brennan, Hughes (Foley 66), Dillon (Ebbe 83), Sweeney; Mulroy (O'Brien 53), Gorman.

Referee: R Harvey (Dublin).

Irish Independent