By Jim MacArdle
The Drogheda United Under 19s carved out a decisive win against Athlone at sunny United Park on Saturday despite losing influential midfielder Eoin McPhillips after 40 minutes through for an injudicious tackle which earned him a second yellow card and a sending-off.
From the kick off the Drogs exerted a firm grip in midfield, with McPhillips distributing the ball well in midfield and Aghinita, Boardman and the always dangerous Adeyemo creating plenty of chances upfront and on 9 minutes Aghinita turned beautifully just outside the box on the left hand side but shot over.
The Drogs took the lead on 22 minutes when Jordan Adeyemo beat three players on the right hand side of the box and hit a brilliant low shot past the keeper. On 35 McPhillips hit a great free from the right just past the post and two minutes later he hit a great shot which came back off the post and was cleared. But disaster came for the Drogs on 40 minutes when McPhillips was dismissed for a high challenge.
The Drogs held out until half time and Athlone attacked from the restart against the ten men and the home side were forced onto the back foot and faced a stern test of character for the first 20 minutes of the second half. On ten minutes Athlone were awarded a penalty for a tackle in the box and keeper Malachy Doyle dived to the right to pull off a magnificent save, but the equaliser came 4 minutes later when a low shot dribbled into the net despite Doyle’s best efforts.
The Drogs defended resolutely against and Athlone team which seemed to be gaining the upper hand. Tom Adeyinka was introduced for Jordan Adeyemo and posed a different physical challenge for the visiting defence, and in a brilliant attack on 65 minutes Gabi Aghinita chased a cross from the left and hit a brilliant shot across the keeper to give the Drogs the lead.
In the 70th minute the Drogs were awarded a free kick just outside the box, which resulted in Athlone being reduced to 10 men and the they suffered a double blow when Levi Boardman struck the resultant free kick to the corner of the net.
The Drogs held out well for the last 20 minutes to secure a well-deserved victory
Team : Malachy Doyle, Gabi Aghinita (Leo Tang ), Dylan Connolly,Jordan Adeyemo (Tom Adeyinka) Dylan Culloty(Oisin Proudfoot ) John Barry, Levi Boardman, Sean Trimble (Luke Ring ), Eoin McPhillips (s/o) ,Sean Cronin (Ryan Harte), Lee McKevitt.
Subs : Dan Grace, , Cian Quinn