UCD 1 -1 Athlone Town
UCD produced a dogged rearguard action to frustrate bottom-of-the-table Athlone Town at the UCD Bowl and maintain the five-point gap between the sides.
An encouraging start by the visitors counted for nothing as they fell behind on nine minutes.
College winger Ayman Ben Mohamed did well to harry Dylan Hayes off the ball, surge forward and set up Conor Cannon to drill home his first goal for the club.
That lead should have been doubled seven minutes later. College skipper Robbie Benson slalomed through the sluggish Town defence, rounded keeper Ryan Coulter, only to scuff his finish, allowing the ‘keeper to gather.
Only the brilliance of Conor O’Donnell, the ’keeper at the other end, kept UCD in front as he made two terrific saves in quick succession in the 26th minute.
First O’Donnell parried away Sean Brennan’s stinging drive. The 20-year then got down superbly to his left to turn Derek Doyle’s low shot out for a corner.
Athlone remained well on top into the second half and deservedly levelled on 63 minute.
Hayes, Brennan and Mark Hughes combined well down the right for the latter to cross for John Mulroy, whose shot from point-blank range was fumbled into the net by O’Donnell.
Delightful play from Ben Mohamed almost restored UCD’s lead seven minutes later when he rifled a shot off the top of a post.
Town continued to dominate, though, and O’Donnell made another good stop from substitute Ian Sweeney who then curled a second effort wide.
UCD: Conor O’Donnell; Hugh Douglas, Ian Ryan, James Kavanagh, Gareth Matthews; Timmy Molloy (Colm Crowe h/t), Robbie Benson, Robbie Creevy, Ayman Ben Mohamed (Chris Mulhall 82); Samir Belhout, Conor Cannon (Tom O'Halloran 85).
Athlone Town: Ryan Coulter; Dylan Hayes, Declan Brennan, Derek Prendergast, Kevin Knight; Sean Brennan (Ian Sweeney 64), James O’Brien (Eric Foley 64), Kealan Dillon (Dean Ebbe 90+2), Mark Hughes, Derek Doyle; John Mulroy.
Referee: Paul Tuite (Dublin)