An­other loss on home soil

Com­fort­able Long­ford win

Gorey Guardian - - SPORT -

ON THE face of it, a 2-0 home de­feat to Long­ford Town in game twelve of the SSE Airtricity First Di­vi­sion on Fri­day could be re­garded as progress of sorts, com­ing just four days af­ter that em­bar­rass­ment against U.C.D.

While many on­look­ers ex­pected heads to roll dur­ing the week, in­stead there was a spe­cial in­sert in the match pro­gramme con­tain­ing apolo­gies from man­ager Damian Locke and cap­tain Ross Kenny, along with a guar­an­tee to do a lot bet­ter.

And cer­tainly the ef­fort ex­pended by Wex­ford this time around couldn’t be ques­tioned in any way, with mid­fielder Mikey Byrne lead­ing the way in try­ing to raise the spir­its.

How­ever, from a foot­balling point of view, this was about as com­fort­able a 2-0 win for the vis­i­tors as one could ever hope to see, a fact un­der­lined by a salient point from the sec­ond-half.

In that en­tire 48 min­utes in to­tal, Wex­ford didn’t cre­ate even one scor­ing op­por­tu­nity, and failed to muster a shot of any de­scrip­tion, ei­ther on or off tar­get.

All they came up with was one corner, and that amounted to noth­ing when an at­tack­ing player han­dled the ball in the box.

Long­ford scored a goal in ei­ther half, and that proved more than enough to travel back to the mid­lands with the three points as they played the game at their tempo through­out and man­aged it ef­fec­tively.

There’s still five games to go be­fore the mid-sea­son break: away to Drogheda United this com­ing Fri­day, home to Finn Harps on May 25, away to Shel­bourne on June 1, away to Cobh Ram­blers on June 9, and home to Gal­way United on June 15.

And un­less the gen­eral form picks up and some points are gar­nered along the way, then that fort­night’s hol­i­day from on­field ac­tion will in­volve a lot of soul-search­ing for those re­spon­si­ble for the up­keep of the club.

Seán Kelly, Dean Kelly and Dean Ge­orge dropped out of the start­ing eleven from the U.C.D. de­ba­cle, with cap­tain Ross Kenny re­turn­ing as the left-sided cen­tre-half af­ter his sec­ond one-game sus­pen­sion, while Thomas Croke and Liam McCar­tan were re­tained af­ter com­ing on ear­lier in the week.

Wex­ford com­peted on an even foot­ing with Long­ford in the early stages, with a Shane Barnes at­tempt blocked while Ryan Nolan fired to the left and wide from long dis­tance.

The mid­lan­ders’ main marks­man, Chris Mul­hall, didn’t get hold of his first shot prop­erly, while a half-vol­ley by Jamie Hol­ly­wood forced Kealan Gaffney into a de­cent save.

The open­ing goal ar­rived in the 19th minute, af­ter Mikey Byrne con­ceded a corner with a wild swing at the ball.

Dar­ren Meenan’s set-piece found Hol­ly­wood in space just in­side the box, and he con­trolled the ball be­fore plac­ing it into the top corner of the net with his left boot.

Long­ford’s dom­i­nance was never in doubt there­after, al­though they only mus­tered one more rea­son­able chance be­fore the in­ter­val when Kealan Gaffney wasn’t trou­bled by a head-high Dy­lan McGlade shot.

The traf­fic was one-way on the re-start, with Sam Ver­don and lively half-time sub­sti­tute Evan Galvin ex­ert­ing plenty of in­flu­ence for the lead­ers.

Ver­don forced Gaffney into a good stop at his near post early on, but the lead was dou­bled in the 55th minute.

McGlade’s corner from the right was ini­tially headed across goal by Chris Mul­hall, be­fore it was knocked back into the cen­tre-for­ward’s path. His sec­ond con­nec­tion in the air was enough to get the ball over the line, with Ver­don on hand to make sure af­ter the lines­man had sig­nalled for the goal.

Ver­don and Tris­tan Noack-Hof­mann couldn’t keep shots down, but Wex­ford never looked like cre­at­ing a chance, let alone eat­ing into that com­fort­able Long­ford lead.

Owen Mc­Cor­mack cleared an 84th-minute lob by Evan Galvin af­ter Kealan Gaffney was caught in no man’s land af­ter a stray clear­ance, while a poor back pass put Dean Byrne through but Wex­ford’s net­min­der saved with an out­stretched foot.

That makes it four league losses on the trot since the 7-0 de­mo­li­tion of Athlone Town, and it’s un­likely to get any eas­ier with a trip to United Park up next to face Drogheda on Fri­day (7.45 p.m.).

Wex­ford F.C.: Kealan Gaffney; A.J. Le­hane, Owen Mc­Cor­mack, Ross Kenny (capt.), Seán Hur­ley; Mikey Byrne, Thomas Croke; Liam McCar­tan, Ryan Nolan, Mark Slater; Shane Barnes. Subs. - Dean Ge­orge for Slater (55), Dean Kelly for Nolan (72), Danny Doyle for McCar­tan (82), also Colum Feeney, Seán Kelly, John Mor­gan, Aaron Dobbs.

Long­ford Town: Mick Kelly; Shane El­wor­thy, Mick McDon­nell, Dan O’Reilly, Tris­tan Noack-Hof­mann; Jamie Hol­ly­wood, Dean Zam­bra (capt.), Sam Ver­don; Dar­ren Meenan, Chris Mul­hall, Dy­lan McGlade. Subs. - Evan Galvin for Meenan (HT), Dean Byrne for Mul­hall (71), Jack­son Ryan for Hol­ly­wood (77), also Jack Brady, Adam O’Con­nor, Karl Cham­bers, Daniel Ryan.

Ref­eree: Tom Dempsey (Dublin).

Dean Ge­orge un­der pres­sure from Dar­ragh Cor­co­ran of U.C.D.

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