Kelly grabs a last-gasp winner for the leaders
TOMMY KELLY was the toast of Finlay Park last Wednesday night as his 95th minute winner helped Wicklow Town to open up a five-point lead at the top of the Premier Division.
Wicklow looked set to drop points for the first time since January until David O’Connor sprayed the ball forward for Kelly to run onto and the striker charged towards the penalty area before lashing a shot across the face of Craig Williams’ goal and into the bottom corner of the net.
A last minute winner would have been the last thing on Wicklow Town’s minds midway through the second half when Kelly added to Rikki Quinn’s 25th minute opener to give his side a commanding and deserved 0-2 lead.
But Richmond Rovers weren’t going down without a fight. In the 80th minute, Richie Golden drove home a close-range volley to give his side some hope. And three minutes later hope turned to delerium when David Hughes found the net after some good work by Golden.
But that delerium gave way to despair in the 95th minute when Kelly struck.
After a sluggish opening, Wicklow threatened first. Mark Delaney beat Dan Doyle to a loose ball and he slipped in Quinn, but the winger fluffed his shot from a good area under great pressure from Bryan Dunne.
Quinn had another chance in the 22nd minute when the ball fell to him after John O’Loughlin’s free-kick led to a bout of head tennis in the Rovers penalty area but his effort was well kept out by Williams.
Some quick-thinking by Kelly led to Town’s next opportunity. He was fouled midway inside the Rovers half and elected to take the free-kick quickly; passing out wide to skipper Anthony Doran. The right back swung over a delicious cross that Mark Delaney met at the back post but the midfielder’s strike was blocked out for a corner.
And from that corner, Town broke the deadlock when Quinn blasted home past Williams from 12 yards.
Richmond almost hit back immiediately in fortuitious fasion. Keith McNamee floated over a left-wing cross and it would have crept in had it not been for the quick reactions of Lar Newsome who clawed the ball away from under his crossbar.
The Richmond Rovers offside trap failed in the 33rd minute, allowing Danny Byrne to hare into their half unopposed but the former Ashford Rovers star had too much time almost and smashed his effort straight at Williams who blocked with his legs.
Kelly went close to doubling the lead five minutes before the break but his glancing header from a John O’Loughlin corner skidded just wide of the far post.
The home side also enjoyed a final foray into the opposition half before half-time when Trevor Conaty curled in a wicked cross and Jonny Meehan beat Newsome to the ball but couldn’t divert his header goalwards.
Town looked certain to add a second two minutes after the restart. A cross was met by Delaney but he was unable to force it in from point-blank range. Maurice Dunne then had a pop from the rebound and his effort appeared to be blocked by the arm of Dan Doyle but referee Dave Jameson waved away the penalty claims.
Jameson was pointing to the centre cirle in the 68th minute though when Town netted their second.
Minutes after Dunne had shaved the post, a simple ball over the top sent Kelly racing clear and the striker took it round Williams before slotting home into the empty net. Game over. Well, not quite. With ten minutes left on the clock, a long ball from the back was nodded down by McNamee to his strike parnter Golden and the striker blasted a textbook volley into the bottom corner.
And three minutes later Golden was denied an equalizer by a fine save from Newsome but Golden got the rebound and turned it back into the middle where Hughes was on hand to hammer home.
But little did we know there was to be a sting in the tail for Rovers when Kelly latched onto O’Connor’s through ball and slammed home the late, late winner.
Top Form: Tommy Kelly (Wicklow Town): Solid work-rate and popped up with the all-important winner.
1. Craig Williams, 2. Bryan Dunne, 24. Dan Doyle (Booked), 5. Frankie Cowan, 3. Ben McNulty (Booked), 4. Jay McLaughlin, 6. Trev Conaty (Booked), 8. David Hughes, 11. Jonny Meehan, 9. Keith McNamee, 10. Richie Golden (Booked). SUBS: Darren Lyons for McLaughlin (70); Seán Tynan for McNamee (82). Not used: Graham O’Sullivan, Colm Devitt, Damo Breen.
1. Lar Newsome, 2. Anthony Doran, 3. John O’Loughlin, 4. Matty Byrne, 5. Denis Vickers, 6. David Duggan, 7. Mark Delaney, 8. Danny Byrne, 9. Maurice Dunne, 10. Tommy Kelly (Booked), 11. Rikki Quinn. SUBS: David O’Connor for Quinn (77); Richard Murphy for Dunne (81). Not used: Warren Gormley, John O’Neill, Steven Morris. VENUE: Ballywaltrim Recreational Park, Bray. REFEREE: Dave Jameson.
David Hughes of Richmond Rovers strides forward after Anthony Doran takes a tumble.