Athlone IT 1
CUFL Premier Division North
November 10th, 2015
A 1-1 draw at home to Athlone Institute of Technology keeps DCU’s hopes of reaching the Colleges and Universities Football League Premier Division quarter finals alive until at least the next game.
DCU now sit fifth in the Premier Division North with a game to go, one point behind Athlone IT who have now played all of their matches. The top four teams qualify for the quarter finals and coach Declan Roche is confident his side can progress.
“I genuinely believe (they can qualify). We have top players here, we have players who are playing at international level and players who are playing in the Airtricity League.
“We have to mind them and try to take care of them. Their demands are very high with their club stuff and their academic commitments so we are just trying to get the balance right,” Roche said.
A great run from Seán Pender, who pulled the ball back to Alan O’Sullivan to finish, secured the draw for DCU who upped their game in the second-half after being outclassed for the first 45 minutes.
Athlone started stronger than the home side with a swirling wind having a big impact on the game, especially in the first half.
It took just twelve minutes for the visitors to make their dominance count when Idris Oyeniyi beat his man down the right-wing before surging into the box and squaring the ball to Jason Lyons, who tapped it home with relative ease.
DCU were completely overrun in the first twenty minutes until the star of the show, Jimmy Fallon, was forced off with an injury to be replaced by Darragh Daly.
That didn’t change the flow of the game however as goalscorer Jason Lyons once again went close for the away side coming on to the end of a Ciarán O’Reilly cross only to hit the side-netting.
Six first-half corners compared to DCU’s three told the tale of a first-half dominated by Athlone.
DCU’s lack of composure on the ball and persistence with hitting aimless balls over the top meant Athlone went in at the break the happier of the two teams and with a one-goal lead.
While the first half was defined by Athlone’s pace on the wings, the second half was similar only this time it was DCU’s wide-men Sean Pender and Michael Isichei who imposed their influence on the game.
Isichei, who had been extremely wasteful in the first-half, broke down the right-wing twice within the first five minutes of the second-half, delivering dangerous crosses only for there to be no yellow shirt on the end of it.
Five minutes later Isichei was causing the Athlone IT defenders problems again. A great ball by Chris McManaman put Isichei in on goal and with a defender in close company, the wide man decided to back himself only for his shot to be easily saved when a pass across to Alan O’Sullivan may have been a better option.
After somewhat abandoning their long-ball game for the majority of the second half, Luke Kelly spotted Seán Pender’s run and with a perfectly executed through ball the DCU man was in.
Pender drove into the box and drew two defenders before finding Alan O’Sullivan. The Shelbourne striker lifted the ball over Dylan Owen in the Athlone goal for a much deserved equaliser.
Both teams pushed for a winner in the final ten minutes but neither were able to finish, a trend in the game with DCU(six) and Athlone IT(seven) having 13 wides between them.
Afterwards, Declan Roche was happy with his side’s performance and the result to go with it.
“I was delighted with the players today. We had to use a lot of players from our second team. It’s difficult with a lot of senior players not available.
“We probably could have won it. We had a lot of possession but they were quick on the counter attack, they had very quick players and we had to be careful of that.
“Look, we’re still in it and that’s the main thing,” Roche added.
Up next for DCU is Dublin Institute of Technology – a game from which they need to get at least a draw if they are to make the quarter-finals for the third consecutive year.
DCU: Jack Brady; Craig Dowling, Gavan Kearney , Kevin Molloy, Dylan O’Rourke; Chris McManaman, Michael Isichei, Luke Kelly, Seán Pender; Alan O’Sullivan Mark Walsh.
Subs: Cian O’Reilly.
Athlone IT: Dylan Owen; Ciarán O’Connell, Ciarán O’Reilly, Joe Moloney, David Brookes; Kevin Dunne, Idris Oyeniyi, Jimmy Fallon, Segun Junaid; Jason Lyons, Patrick Mullins. Subs: Darragh Daly.
Image Credit: David Clarke