Finn Harps recorded their second win in as many games in the U13 National League Phase 2 beating a good Athlone Town side away at Lissywoolen.
Athlone 1-5 Finn Harps
A brace from captain Shaun Patton, along with strikes from Adam McDaid, Deizel Long and Tiernan McGinty sealed a comprehensive victory for Kevin McHugh’s side.
The Harps U13s can now look forward with some confidence to next Friday night’s Northwest derby against Sligo Rovers at Finn Park (kick-off 7.30).
Harps started fast and opened the scoring in the first minute when Patton burst into the box before cutting the ball back across to McDaid whose first-time strike flashed high into the net out of the reach of the Athlone keeper.
In the early stages, the visitors controlled possession for large spells and worried the Athlone keeper on a few occasions, most notably Ciaran O’Kane’s speculative effort from 30 yards that went narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
Harps thought they had doubled their lead midway during the half when Aaron McLaughlin was played through by Conor Kelly, but the keeper parried the initial effort. McLaughlin recovered to square to McGinty whose shot was then stopped by the keeper. However, Patton forced the rebound in only to see the goal ruled out for offside.
Only moments later a wayward Athlone kick-out from was met by the head of McLaughlin whose header found Patton. This time there no flag and the forward finished with precision past the oncoming keeper to make it 2-0.
Harps extended their lead further just before half-time when Martin Coyle’s corner was flicked on at the near post by McGinty eventually falling to Deizel Long who controlled the ball before firing home from close range.
Harps began the second half like they finished the first and grabbed their fourth goal almost immediately when good work from McGinty released Patton, one on one with the keeper and just like the first he calmly finished past the keeper.
Athlone were unfortunate not to pull a goal back within a minute when a shot ricocheted off the post and back into Killian Hagan’s hands.
The game was starting to become more open as the hosts went in search of a goal though they were again foiled by the post, while Harps went on the counter-attack and Shaunie Bradley found the foot of the post, denying him from getting on the scoresheet. McGinty finally found the net for himself after assisting two earlier goals. A ball down the line from Darragh Coyle picked out McGinty and the midfielder held off a challenge before rifling a powerful shot in from all of 25 yards.
Athlone got a consolation goal with 20 minutes remaining when they converted a penalty. The win sends Harps to the summit of the group and the focus now turns to Friday night when McHugh’s boys get the opportunity to play at Finn Park against northwest rivals Sligo Rovers (kick-off 7.30).