League Report: Kerry 1 - 2 Athlone Town


Kerry suffered their first defeat since the beginning of March tonight. Credit: David Ribeiro (ETPhotos)

Aidan Breen reports from Mounthawk Park

A stunning strike from Carl Mujaguzi gave Athlone Town a come-from-behind victory over Kerry FC in Tralee on Friday night in what was the proverbial game of two halves.

The Kingdom made their customary fast start at home and Kennedy Amechi was only denied an early goal in the third minute by a tight offside call.

Ryan Kelliher was next to try his luck for the home side when he skilfully created space for himself on the edge of the area and hit a well-struck half-volley that was pushed away by Athlone Town goalkeeper Enda Minogue.

It was all Kerry in the opening 25 minutes and they again went close to taking the lead just before the quarter hour mark when Sean McGrath’s excellent strike from outside the box was met by an equally impressive save from the increasingly busy Minogue.

A goal seemed inevitable for the home side and it duly arrived in the 20th minute through a penalty from winger Amechi. Athlone failed to clear a cross into the area and the bouncing ball struck the arm of midfielder Aaron Connolly. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Amechi scored for the second home game in succession, sending Minogue the wrong way with a confidently taken penalty.

It seemed at this stage that Kerry could run riot and Kelliher nearly made it 2-0 almost immediately. The powerful centre-forward latched onto a long ball over the top, rounded Minogue and was unlucky to run out of room, only managing to find the side netting from a tight angle.

The one-way traffic continued, with Amechi and Sam Aladesanusi having further efforts on the visitors’ goal without overly worrying Minogue.

Athlone badly needed to stem the tide at this stage and they finally troubled the Kerry rearguard in the 38th minute, with Ruben Candal and Matthew Leal firing warning shots in quick succession at the home goal following fine wing play from their most impressive performer during the opening period, Brian Torre.

The away side enjoyed their best spell of the half after this and they were rewarded with a scarcely deserved equalizing goal in the 43rd minute. It was one that Kerry will have been disappointed with, with Aladesanusi fluffing a clearance from an Oisin Duffy cross, straight to the feet of Candal, who made no mistake from close range, finishing low to the corner of Antonio Tuta’s net.

Considering Kerry’s dominance during the opening 45 minutes, the visitors would have been delighted to have been going in level at the break.

Upon the resumption, it was again Kerry who were straight on the attack and Daire McCarthy missed a great opportunity to give them the lead again in the 47th minute, heading wide from close-range after getting on the end of an Andy Spain header from a Sean O’Connell corner.

McGrath was next to try his luck, again testing Minogue from outside the box, this time with a left-footed effort.

At the other end, Athlone top scorer Dean Ebbe beat Tuta to a lofted Torre cross but Kevin Williams was on hand to clear off the line.

This was a warning that the home side failed to heed and from another delivery into the Kerry box in the 64th minute, this time from a long throw from Jamar Campion-Hinds, Athlone took the lead. It was recent Ugandan call-up Carl Mujaguzi who latched onto the second ball and fired a wonderful acrobatic right-footed effort to the corner of Tuta’s net. It really was a wonderful strike from the midfielder.

Kerry responded to the goal with a triple substitution in the 66th minute as they looked to regain a foothold in the game.

However, they struggled to make inroads against the resurgent visitors as top scorer Ebbe began to become increasingly influential with some lovely link-up play for the away side.

After a lovely series of one-twos between himself and Candal eventually ended with the former sending an effort wide, Athlone came desperately close to making it 3-1 in the 79th minute. Again, it was Mujaguzi with the effort, striking the post from inside the area after displaying good skill to create the space for himself, with Ebbe again heavily involved.

In response, Kerry struggled badly to build any sustained pressure, with substitute Cian Brosnan’s blocked free-kick from the edge of the area about the best they could offer up.

As it was, it was Athlone who had the final opportunity, with substitute Gideon Tetteh firing wastefully wide deep in injury time after getting through on goal.

However, the miss wasn’t costly as Athlone held on fairly comfortably for their first away league win of the season.

Meanwhile for Kerry, they will rue not making more of their first-half dominance as their seven-game unbeaten league run came to a disappointing end.

Kerry FC: Antonio Tuta, Kevin Williams (Steven Healy 66), Andrew Spain, Samuel Aladesanusi, Sean O’Connell, Ronan Teahan (Graham O’Reilly 66), Daire McCarthy, Sean McGrath (Cian Brosnan 82), Daniel Okwute, Ryan Kelliher (Victor Udeze 66), Kennedy Amechi (Nathan Gleeson 59).

Subs not used: Aaron O’Sullivan, Jack Kavanagh, Ethan Kos, Evison Rramani.

Booked: Kevin Williams 61, Daniel Okwute 85.

Athlone Town: Enda Minogue, Oisin Duffy (Amardo Oakley 53), Matthew Leal, Daniel McKenna, Jarlath Jones, Brian Torre, Aaron Connolly (Shane Forbes 72), Carl Mujaguzi, Jamar Campion-Hinds (Roscoe Rubinstein 89), Ruben Candal (Gideon Tetteh 89), Dean Ebbe.

Subs not used: Andrew Stuart Trainor, Shaun O’Donnell, Divine Izekor, Brendan Lauder, Ciaran Nolan.

Booked: Jarlath Jones 80

Referee: Ian O’Keeffe

Attendance: 742

Man of the Match: Carl Mujaguzi (Athlone Town)