Finn Harps 1-2 Athlone Town
Despite dominating the game for long periods the Finn Harps U15s suffered a very disappointing defeat in Saturday evening’s SSE Airtricity National League Semi-final against Athlone Town at Dry Arch Park in Bonagee.
After a slow start Kevin McHugh’s boys virtually took complete control of game on a crisp November evening. Star striker Luke Rudden was involved in a lot of lively attacking play along with the other front player Conor Black but a failure to finish off a couple of decent chances was to prove costly as Athlone took the lead on 29 minutes against the run of play courtesy of Dylan Gavin.
Three minutes later came one of the key incidents in the semi-final when Rudden broke from the half-way line and appeared to be fouled just outside the penalty area but referee Benny McDaid waved away Harps claims for a free-kick. However, Rudden did come close to an equalizer on 36 minutes after coming in along the end-line but his effort from a narrow angle was saved by keeper Sean O’Toole.
The Midlanders stunned their opponents with a second goal on 37 minutes and again it was against run of play with Adam Lennon the scorer this time. However, just a minute into the second half Harps pulled a goal back when Conor Black took advantage of hesitancy in the Athlone defence to head the ball past the stranded O’Toole. At the other Aidan McLaughlin had to make a good save to keep the opposition from opening up a two-goal lead again.
While the hosts again enjoyed a lot of possession their attacks were not quite as threatening as in the first half. Adam McLaughlin and Rudden were both denied by O’Toole saves. The home supporters breathed a sigh of relief in the 69th minute when Ryan Reynolds got free but with the Harps neminder advancing the striker hooked his effort wide.
McHugh’s side kept pressing but a couple of headers from good positions both missed the target. The result was all the more disappointing as the winners Athlone now have home advantage in the final.
Finn Harps – Adrian Mc Laughlin, Fionnan Coyle, Charlie White, Stephen Black, Kelan Collier; Jamie Doherty, Dylan Woods, Carlos O’Reilly, Adam McCafferty, Luke Rudden , Conor Black. Subs used: Jamie Mc Daid , Daniel Gildea, Jack Murphy. Athlone Town: Sean O Toole, Adam Cummins, Adam Dowling, James Farrell, Jack Keenan, Israel Kimazo, Adam Lennon, Ronan Garvan, Dylan Gavin, Ryan Mc Cormack, Jack Reynolds. Subs used: Tom Devine and Oisín O Farrell