Athlone Town recorded their sixth consecutive defeat on their return to the top flight as Bohemians left Lissywoollen with a 3-1 victory.
The hosts gave as good as they got in a feisty but Derek Prendergast clumsy challenge and his subsequent dismissal cost his side dear.
Daniel Byrne gave the visitors the lead just before half-time when he bundled the ball home from close range but Athlone responded well and produced a great equaliser from Graham Rusk two minutes later. However, they were undone by a bizarre own goal and a late Jason Byrne strike.
Bohemians made a strong start and rattled the Athlone crossbar from a 18-yard drive from Kevin Devaney after just four minutes. The remainder of their opportunities in the first half were from set-pieces, with Daniel Byrne’s 43rd minute opener coming from a Darragh Reynor corner-kick. That was the sixth corner of the half for Bohemians, five of them taken from the right wing, and each time the Athlone defence struggled to handle the pace and accuracy of Reynor’s deliveries.
Athlone were dealt a further blow in injury time before the break when captain Aidan Collins was helped off the field after suffering a recurrence of the arm injury that kept him out of their 3-2 defeat to Drogheda United on Friday. His absence from the centre of the defence was to prove even more conspicuous when fellow centre-back Derek Prendergast slid in to contest possession against Stephen Traynor with his studs showing. The mistimed tackle saw referee Kevin O’Regan issue a straight red card to the former Drogheda United and Bray Wanderers player, and most supporters in the crowd braced themselves for a Gypsies onslaught.
Instead, the Town rallied and within two minutes they were level after putting together the best move of the match.
A stunning cross-field pass from Seán Brennan was won by Jason Marks on the right and he slipped the ball into the path of Graham Rusk, who took one step and picked out the bottom left-hand corner of the net from just inside the area.
Athlone continued to press, but lady luck deserted them at a crucial moment as they conceded a remarkable own goal just four minutes later. A throw-in from Derek Pender fell to James O’Brien at the corner of his own penalty area, but somehow his attempted clearance skewed off the outside of his boot, spun up into the air and looped over Paul Skinner and into the net.
Athlone kept pushing forward in search of an equaliser, but inevitably they left huge gaps for Bohemians to attack on the break and they conceded plenty of good chances.
Jason Byrne missed a sitter when he was set up by Stephen Beattie at the edge of the six-yard box, but the experienced poacher made up for it in the 84th minute when he slid in to touch the ball home from two yards out, taking advantage of another excellent Reynor delivery and a neat flick-on from substitute Daniel Corcoran.
Athlone Town: Paul Skinner; Kealon Dillon, Aidan Collins (Jason Marks 45+1), Derek Prendergast, Sean Byrne; Alan Byrne; Sean Brennan, James O’Brien, Mark Hughes, Graham Rusk; Philip Gorman.
Subs not used: Craig Sexton, Conor McMahon, Ian Sweeney, Barry Clancy, Declan Brennan.
Bohemians: Lee Murphy; Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Aidan Price, Darragh Reynor; Paddy Kavanagh, Daniel Byrne, Craig Walsh, Kevin Devaney; Stephen Traynor, Jason Byrne.
Subs not used: Daniel Corcoran, Philip McCabe, Karl Moore, Keith Buckley, Ryan McEvoy, Steven Beattie, Jake Hyland.
Referee: Kevin O'Regan