Cobh Ramblers 0 Athlone Town 0
COBH Ramblers’ interim manager Darren Murphy was forced to settle for a point in his first game in charge at home as his side held Athlone Town to a 0-0 draw at St Colman’s Park on Saturday night.
In the end, Murphy should be happy with a share of the spoils as his team finished with nine players as Charlie Lyons was shown a straight red in the second half while Ben O’Riordan was dismissed for a second yellow in injury time.
Athlone started the game the better side and Ramblers struggled in the opening exchanges to deal with the pace and power of Tunmise Sobowale.
The winger skipped past his marker inside the first minute and picked out Conor Barry but the attacker could only direct his volley over the crossbar.
Barry ought to have given the visitors the lead in the seventh minute but after he pounced upon a loose pass from the Rams defence, his low drive was saved well by goalkeeper Sean Barron, who did well to stop it from finding his bottom left corner.
Ramblers eventually got a foothold in the contest and midway through the first half they almost broke the deadlock.
But after working the ball onto his right foot the lively Danny O’Connell sent his curler from the edge of the penalty area inches past the far top right corner.
That effort came in between two well-struck shots from James Doona, who took over the baton from Sobowale and was now Athlone’s most dangerous forward.
But Cobh were now the better team and Town needed keeper Michael Schlingermann to turn a thunderous Nathan O’Connell drive onto his bar and over.
From the resulting corner, Charlie Lyons met the ball with a powerful header but it was straight at the visiting number one.
The tempo of the game dropped as half-time approached but both sides did have a sight at goal from distance.
Shortly after Darren Murphy blasted over for Cobh, Conor Barry did likewise from even further out for Athlone as the two teams sitting 6th and 9th in the table - separated by just three points - remained locked at 0-0 at the break.
The two sides again cancelled each other out until the hour mark when a couple of superb Ian Turner corners almost created the opening goal.
First, Sobowale was relieved to see the ball deflect off him and drop over the gaping net from point-blank range after his keeper missed with his punch before Lyons rifled his header wide from the next set-piece.
Kavanagh fired wide of the far post with less than 20 minutes remaining but Cobh’s hopes of winning this game soon suffered a huge blow as Lyons was shown a straight red card after fouling Stephen Meaney when the substitute collected his weak back pass and broke clear on goal.
James Doona looked to make the most of the extra space but he twice drilled the ball at Barron late on.
Cobh almost snatched it in the final minutes but Nathan O’Connell was denied having been found in space by Turner before O’Riordan was shown a second yellow card and they were relieved to see McAuley's free roll just wide.