FINN HARPS . . . 4
ATHLONE TOWN . . . .1
By Diarmaid Doherty
Finn Harps rounded off their home campaign with a surprisingly comfortable win over play-off chasing Athlone Town at Finn Park on Saturday.
It’s only a fourth league win in Ballybofey for Harps who produced a brilliant second half display to ease to victory.
Ryan Flood hit a hat-trick – two of his goals coming from the penalty spot.
MAIN PIC: Aaron McLaughlin of Finn Harps goes past his man during Saturday’s game at Finn Park. Picture: Brian McDaid
Harps went in front after only four minutes when a free kick from the left by Tony McNamee deceived the Athlone keeper Enda Minogue and somehow ended up in the back of the net.
It was not the start Athlone Town were looking for but their response to falling behind was good.
They hit back by creating several good chances in quick succession before they drew level on 13 minutes – the ball deflecting into the net at the back post off Harps defender Jamie Watson.
The visitors, with three wins over Harps in their three previous meetings this season, created the better of the chances in the first half.
But they would fall behind again right at the start of the second half. Once again McNamee was involved – his corner from the right picking out the unmarked Flood in the area and he produced a wonderful finish to make it 2-1.
The home side scored a third on the hour and it was Flood who found the net again, this time converting from the penalty spot after half-time substitute Sean O’Donnell was fouled.
Flood completed his hat-trick in injury time at the finish. Again he scored from the penalty spot when O’Donnell was again upended in the area.
For Harps the victory was a welcome result before their final match of the campaign next Friday night in Bray.
Athlone have now lost five on the bounce and will need to avoid defeat in their final game against Longford Town if they are to secure a play-off spot.