Shelbourne recorded their third eircom League of Ireland First Division win in a row by downing Athlone Town 2-0 at a blustery Tolka Park tonight.
Dermot Keely’s men took the lead on 33 minutes when Anthony Flood picked out James Chambers before the winger’s rasping drive rattled the New Stand net.
Flood then turned goalscorer, notching his fifth goal in three games by capitalising on hesitancy in the visitors’ defence to nod past a bemused Danny O’Leary.
The victory moves the resurgent Dubliners up to fifth in the table, while Dermot Lennon’s Athlone slip to seventh.
The first purposeful effort on goal came after 14 minutes. Athlone’s Paul McTiernan, returning from suspension, cleverly turned two Shels defenders only to send his curling effort from outside the area into the grateful arms of Tony O’Dowd.
Seven minutes later the Shels netminder needed two attempts to bring a well-struck Davy Byrne free-kick under control.
Play became a little fractured around the half-hour mark, which seemed to suit Athlone. They started to push further into Shelbourne territory, but were then caught with a sucker punch in the 34th minute.
Flood gathered possession in the Athlone half, and took a second before playing a lovely ball into the path of the surging run of Chambers.
The winger, who converted a penalty against Kilkenny City on Tuesday night, wasted little time in smashing a right-footed shot to the net from the edge of the box.
Shelbourne should have doubled their lead when they created a near identical chance four minutes later. Again Flood was the provider, but this time Mark O’Brien failed to replicate the clinical finish of his fellow midfielder.
Athlone nearly equalised moments later when Eric Lavine’s shot on the turn went inches wide of the right upright.
Shels were dealt a blow seven minutes after the restart when first-choice goalkeeper O’Dowd went off with what appeared to be a thigh injury – a problem he suffered with earlier in the season.
His replacement James Hussey was called on almost immediately to prevent a Lavine header creeping in at the near post.
Flood, who had scored a hat-trick in Kilkenny during the week, was causing the Midlanders’ defence untold problems with his intelligent movement and unselfish distribution.
The striker, who later collected the man-of-the-match award, extended his side’s lead in the 68th minute by making the most of a static Athlone rearguard to nip in and nonchalantly nod the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.
Chambers and substitute striker Mark Leech, making his comeback from an ankle injury, both went close to extending Shels’ lead. The former also had a goal dubiously disallowed for offside with a little under ten minutes remaining
Manager Dermot Keely’s shrewdness during the transfer window has reaped instant rewards for Shelbourne, and the Tolka faithful will be hoping the Reds can keep the run going when Monaghan United visit next week.
Shelbourne: T O’Dowd (Hussey 53), L’Estrange, Keely, Malcolm, McCulloch, Chambers, Crawford (Reilly 88), O’Brien, Lacey, Flood, Rooney (Leech 62).
Athlone Town: O’Leary, Sheridan, Frawley, McCarthy, Young, Jinks (Russo 79), Fortune, Byrne, D O’Dowd (Lakatos 58), Lavine (McGee 79), McTiernan.
Referee: Damien Hancock.