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REPORT | Athlone Town 1-2 Galway United

Galway United reversed a first half deficit to knock Athlone Town out of the EA SPORTS Cup, with an extra-time win courtesy of goals from Conor Barry and Vinny Faherty on Monday night.

Both sides fielded much changed sides in a game played in bitterly cold and wet conditions. Galway United manager Alan Murphy made ten changes to the side that defeated Wexford on Friday night, with Cian Murphy the sole survivor.

George Mukete put Athlone ahead in the early stages of the game when his right-footed cross from the left wing for Evan Pierce evaded everyone and bounced into the net at the far post.

Later on, Mukete raced down the right and played a dangerous ball in for Pierce once again, but Adam Rooney did well to cut it out with the Athlone attacker lurking.

Ronan Asgari scooped the ball away to clear following a scramble at the far post, caused by Kyle Hogan’s cross into United’s six yard box. Andreas Werner made a good save a short time later, when a strong hand was needed to deny the lurking Hogan.

Conor Melody headed a Werner goal kick into the path of Shane Doherty, who raced towards goal from the centre circle, eventually tipping it around the onrushing Darcy Lawless in the Athlone goal under pressure, but it rolled just out of reach of the New Jersey native.

A throw-in in United’s half was worked up the left and eventually Conor Melody fed Shane Doherty who bolted past Evan White into the box to cross low for the arriving Matthew Barrett, who was inches away from connecting in front of goal.

Early in a second half in which United were much improved, a ball from deep by Cian Murphy caused confusion in the Athlone box, dropping into the path of Barrett, but the bouncing ball was too difficult to direct under the crossbar. Ronan Asgari later found space to shoot from distance, drawing a smart save from Darcy Lawless.

Less than five minutes after being introduced as a substitute, Conor Barry drew United level. Ivan Gamarra won possession through dogged persistence in Athlone’s half and gave a short pass forward to Jeff McGowan. The striker then shrugged off the challenge of Rhys Gorman before playing a deft little chip into the box for Conor Barry, who nicely cushioned the ball over Lawless on the half volley.

In the dying minutes of normal time, Conor Barry set himself up to shoot from a Marc Ludden throw, but his looping effort just cleared Lawless’ far post.

In the first half of extra-time, a low United corner was cleverly dummied by Stephen Walsh into the path of Cian Murphy six yards out, but was unlucky to shoot over in a crowded box.

Deep in extra-time with penalties looming, Vinny Faherty popped up with the winner for the Tribesmen four minutes from time. United worked the ball across the pitch from left to right before Conor Melody provided a perfect cross from near the touchline, allowing Faherty to drift behind his man and rise to place a cushioned header back across goal, giving Lawless no chance.

United now return to Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night, on the back of two successive away wins, to face Bray Wanderers in the SSE Airtricity League First Division. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.

Athlone Town: Lawless; Buckley, White (Lotefa 82 (Carmody 112)), E. Morgan (George 37), Brilly, Byrne, J. Morgan (Gorman 74), Mukete, Stokes, Pierce, Hogan

Galway United: Werner; Asgari, Rooney (Walsh 73), C. Murphy, Costelloe (Faherty); Collins, Gamarra; Barrett (Barry 66), Melody, Doherty (Ludden 85); McGowan.