Athlone Town 1 Bray Wanderers 1
Bray extended their unbeaten SSE Airtricity League First Division run to four on a night where they’ll be left to wonder what might have been as wasted first half dominance resulted in only a point.
The Wanderers started the brighter of the sides and were duly rewarded after just ten minutes when Kurtis Byrne hammered home against his former team.
The Midlanders attempted to play out from the back, but Micheál Schlingermann’s pass was headed back into the box by Karl Manahan and picked up by Byrne who shot low and hard across the keeper.
On 17 minutes, Bray could have been two up when a loose ball in the box was brought in by Rob Manley, but he was not able to keep his effort down.
The wingers were once again a bright spark for the Seagulls with
Callum Thompson and Paul Fox beat their man to create space on many occasions. Unfortunately, neither was able to find a teammate in a position to deliver a much needed second.
The Westmeath side came into the match as the half wore on and nearly had an equaliser on 42 minutes when Success Edogun’s low cross just missed the outstretched Carlton Ubaezuonu.
Perhaps the moment that changed the match came on the stroke of half time when Bray captain Hugh Douglas was replaced as a concussion substitute after a clash of heads while clearing a corner.
Athlone appeared re-energised in the second half as Thomas Oluwa moved from the left wing to join Ubaezuonu up front and cause problems for the new centre half partnership of Sean Callan and Jack Hudson.
Ubaezuonu came close first when on 55 minutes he created space for himself in the box but could only drag his shot wide.
Just three minutes later, the home side found their equaliser when Oluwa beat his man inside the box and sent a left footed shot curling into the net.
The Wanderers re-established themselves in the game as the game progressed with neither side settling for the point and attacking at will. Schlingermann saved twice in quick succession to keep his side in the game.
First from Manley at close range, and a minute later got his hand to Fox’s cross as Wanderers’ players were lined up to finish.
With another point on the board, Pat Devlin’s men moved up to fifth in the table before Treaty United come to the seaside to bring the first round of fixtures to a close.
Athlone Town AFC: Micheál Schlingermann; Daniel Dobbin, Aaron McBride, Noah Van Geenen (Andy Spain ’79), Oisin Duffy; Success Edogun (Eugen Slivca ’53), Stephen Kenny, Gary Armstrong, Thomas Oluwa (Quincy Nkansah ’90); Youri Habing (Shane Barnes ’72), Carlton Ubaezuonu
Subs not used: Andrew Skerritt, Derek Daly, Donal Curtin, Izzy Kimazo, Cian Kelly
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness; Dan Blackbyrne, Hugh Douglas (Sean Callan ’45), Jack Hudson, Kevin Knight; Callum Thompson (Conor Knight ’85), Karl Manahan (Darragh Levingston ’78), Dean Zambra, Paul Fox (Eoin McPhillips ’85); Kurtis Byrne (Kieran Marty Waters ’69), Rob Manley (Darragh Lynch ’78)
Subs not used: Michael Kelly, Keith Dalton, Zak O’Neill.
Referee: Rob Dowling.
Report by Kevin Dooney.
Pictures by Peter Minogue.