Arlington moved to within two points of top spot in the Premier Division table on Sunday afternoon when they saw notched their seventh win of the campaign over basement side Stradbally Town. The result might indicate an easy afternoon for the hosts but it was far from it as Town provided a tough test that belied their current league standing, but Arlington had just that little bit more class and they climb to third in the table behind Gallen and Mullingar.
In a finely balanced opening half with few clear cut chances, Stradbally’s physical presence clearly had a stifling effect on Arlington’s usual flowing football, and growing in confidence, the hosts could have taken the lead on the half hour mark when Derek O’Gorman’s attempted shot landed at the feet of Podge Langton who side-footed wide from six yards out.
Danny Dunne then tried his luck with a blistering long-range strike that Arlington keeper Brian McAuley had to watch all the way to deal with, but just when it looked like Town would enjoy a share of the spoils at the break John Carroll struck an unstoppable free kick to hand the hosts the advantage. Conor Delaney was adjudged to have fouled Oleg Shiskarev and Carroll fired a curling effort over the wall and beyond Matt Kelly.
Stradbally continued to plug away after the restart and although Arlington always looked the better footballing side, Town remained a threat and that remained in place until the 66th minute when another free kick finally put pay to Stradbally’s hopes of adding to their meagre return of five league points. Again it was Oleg Shiskarev, who drew the foul from Conor Delaney, but this time the lively winger claimed the resulting free for himself and just as Carroll had done in the first half, he beat both wall and goalkeeper with a fizzing effort to double Arlington’s lead.
Jodie Dillon and Podge Fitzpatrick were introduced to add fresh impetus to the Town frontline and Fitzpatrick wasted no time in making his presence felt. With ten minutes left, Arlington defender Joe Tully took exception to a challenge and the pair became embroiled in an ugly confrontation which resulted in a red for Tully and a yellow for Fitzpatrick.
Even with a numerical disadvantage, Arlington continued to outplay Town who had now all but given up the ghost, and the result was finally put to bed with a late third. Oleg Shiskarev had toiled admirably on the right wing all afternoon and his enthusiasm was repaid when he expertly killed a long ball over the top with his first touch and drove a low shot past Matt Kelly with his second to seal the win.
Stradbally will be disappointed not to have come away with anything from this one. They worked hard and on this evidence their position at the foot of the table is a curious one. Without any real goal threat they have found it hard to make their efforts count, whereas Arlington’s patient approach always looked like opening up the Town defence sooner or later. Their promotion push remains in great health, while the games are rapidly running out for Stradbally.
ARLINGTON: Brian McAuley, Joe Tully, Lorcan Carey, Colin Doyle, Alan Kelly, Dave Thorpe, Oleg Shiskarev, John Carroll, Stefan Zmudski, Joe Gorman, Tom Behan. Subs: Ciaran McManus for Behan (72 mins), Daryl Foy for Zmudski (81 mins), Luke O’Brien for Shiskarev (88 mins), Ciaran Connolly for Carey (88 mins)
STRADBALLY TOWN: Matt Kelly, Conor Delaney, Stephen Buggy, Ger Dunne, Danny Dunne, James Langton, Billy Murphy, John Shannon, Mick Ramsbottom, Podge Langton, Derek O’Gorman. Subs: Jodie Dillon for P Langton (57 mins), Paudge Fitzpatrick for Murphy (65 mins), John Dwyer for Ramsbottom (72 mins)