Kelly seals precious late win
Wexford come from behind to defeat Cabinteely again
CABINTEELY WEXFORD F.C. 1 2
STRADBROOK’S STANDING as the happiest hunting ground for Wexford F.C. cannot be questioned at this stage after they chalked up their second win of the season at the south Dublin venue with a gutsy recovery on a wind-less Friday evening.
The optimism generated by the 1-0 success at the same venue on the opening night last February has long since disappeared, but this was an important statement by the players after a week when their shoddy treatment by club officials left a bitter taste.
In reality, Wexford should have been celebrating two wins on the bounce for the first time this season after Friday’s game, given that they had overcome Athlone Town 1-0 seven nights earlier.
However, they fielded a player under suspension - Thomas Croke - in the process, leaving the FAI with no option in accordance to rule other than awarding all three points to the midlanders and granting them a 3-0 win on the official record.
The fact that the Waterford man was deemed alright to play was an exercise in gross incompetence behind the scenes, and nothing to do with the players.
And to their immense credit, they responded in the best way possible, absorbing the sucker punch of going one behind to equalise less than twelve minutes later, before a fast break led to a late winner.
Manager Damian Locke pulled a rabbit from the hat in the process, because Emmet Nugent - signed from Freebooters in Kilkenny during the week - was given a second-half debut up front and made an immediate impact, setting up Mark Slater’s equaliser and looking very sharp in general.
That Cabinteely goal had arrived in the 54th minute from the penalty spot, with centre-half Conor Keeley sending Corey Chambers the wrong way after Seán Kelly was deemed to have fouled Jack Tuite in the air as he tried to clear his lines.
The same player had scored the winner when the sides last met in Ferrycarrig Park in the league in May, but Wexford have quite a good record against the Dubliners as they dumped them out of the Leinster Senior Cup as well as coming out on top in Stradbrook last February.
As a result, they weren’t entirely deflated by the concession of that goal, and two lively substitutes combined for the equaliser.
Nugent had been introduced for Aaron Dobbs five minutes into the second-half, and he was joined after a short period by Mark Slater who always enjoys playing against his former club.
Cabinteely did go close to doubling the lead after a late challenge by Conor Sutton on Kieran Marty Waters in the 61st minute, but a Jack Watson free-kick destined for the top right corner was tipped acrobatically over the bar by Corey Chambers.
Ryan Nolan then sent a low drive left and wide after a Dean George cross was sent back into his path by Nugent, but there was better to come in the 66th minute.
Slater played the ball to the newcomer from Kilkenny who got to the byline before looping it back into the box. And, after continuing his run, Slater was ideally placed to beat Stephen McGuinness from close range with a downward header.
The home side were momentarily deflated, but they fashioned one very good chance under the watchful gaze of Wexford’s own Gary Dempsey who is a new addition to their coaching staff and conducted the pre-match warm-up.
Prior to that, a foul on Dean Kelly in a central area led to a free-kick sent narrowly to the right and wide by Slater, but Wexford were breathing a collective sigh of relief after a let-off in the 73rd minute.
Kieran Marty Waters lofted a beautiful ball over the top for Joe Doyle, a man with a good track record against the Ferrycarrig Park outfit. He seemed poised to score after controlling the ball, but the slightest of nudges by John Morgan as he attempted to beat Corey Chambers may have made all the difference as his lofted effort came back into play off the bar.
The home side continued to look more threatening, with Chambers saving comfortably from Jack Watson at the end of his long run before Doyle got to the byline and saw his cross cleared by Morgan.
Chambers grabbed a Keith Dalton shot at the second attempt, but sloppy work from the same Cabinteely player led to the winning Wexford goal in the 86th minute.
His slack short pass in midfield was intercepted by Dean Kelly who raced down the middle before releasing the ball to Mark Slater on the right.
He in turn knocked a first-time pass to the left side for Ryan Nolan whose delivery into the box resulted in two Cabinteely players colliding. Kelly had kept running and the ball fell perfectly into his path, with the Carlow lad joining Aaron Dobbs as league top scorer on five goals apiece with a composed finish.
The home side threw caution to the wind in the three added minutes, and the decision to push Conor Keeley up front almost paid dividends.
He got his boot on a long throw to hook it into the path of Kieran Marty Waters who couldn’t keep his volley down, leaving Wexford to bring a frustrating week to a positive end.
The side had been unchanged from the trip to Athlone, and they probably shaded the tight exchanges in a scoreless opening half.
Cabinteely headed the overall corner count 7-5, with their first in the 13th minute resulting in a blocked shot from Keith Dalton.
Conor Earley was booked for a cynical foul on Danny Doyle to prevent a breakaway before Wexford’s first effort on goal, a weak shot to the left and wide by midfielder Ryan Nolan.
Stand-in captain Mikey Byrne was next to enter the notebook after a mistimed tackle on Kieran Marty Waters, while Doyle couldn’t make the most of a glorious longrange pass from the left flank by Dean Kelly in the 19th minute when his shot missed the target.
A good cross by Keith Dalton was headed to the left and wide by Dean Casey in the 28th minute, with Kelly testing Stephen McGuinness at the other end when his first-time effort after a Dean George assist led to a fruitless corner.
A Dean Casey free was headed left and wide by Jack Tuite, while his next set-piece - after Owen McCormack picked up a booking for a foul on Christian Lotefa - was headed clear by Danny Doyle.
Aaron Dobbs was next to test netminder McGuinness, with the Cabo number one beating away his powerful effort from outside the box after Dean George knocked the ball into the striker’s path in the 39th minute.
Cabinteely should have opened the scoring from another free-kick just before half-time, but Kieran Marty Waters couldn’t keep his header down even though he rose in the box without a challenge.
Ryan Nolan was getting forward at every opportunity for Wexford on the re-start, but they had to do it the hard way after conceding that first goal in the 54th minute.
However, the game finished on a high note, and that was the ideal tonic ahead of the second visit of the season to Ferrycarrig Park by table-toppers U.C.D. on Friday (8 p.m.).
The last clash at the venue in May saw the students romp home 8-0, but Wexford appear to be in a better place ahead of this latest test. Only time will tell whether or not that is the case.
They were on the road against last night (Monday) for the Leinster Senior Cup quarter-final away to Premier Division side St. Patrick’s Athletic in Richmond Park, while they will entertain another top flight Dublin outfit, Bohemians, in the FAI Cup next month.
North End United have also been handed a mouth-watering home draw in the same competition against Galway United, now under the management of long-time player Alan Murphy after Shane Keegan’s departure.
Wexford F.C.: Corey Chambers; Conor Sutton, Owen McCormack, Seán Kelly, John Morgan; Mikey Byrne (capt.), Dean Kelly; Danny Doyle, Ryan Nolan, Dean George; Aaron Dobbs. Subs. - Emmet Nugent for Dobbs (50), Mark Slater for Doyle (60), Aaron O’Connor for Byrne (80), also Colum Feeney, Ross Kenny, Liam McCartan, Kelan Gaffney.
Cabinteely: Stephen McGuinness; Seán Fitzpatrick, Conor Keeley, Jack Tuite; Keith Dalton, Conor Earley, Christian Lotefa, Dean Casey; Jack Watson; Kieran Marty Waters, Luke Clucas. Subs. - Joe Doyle for Clucas (72), Karl Byrne for Casey (77), Zak O’Neill for Earley (82), also Seán Hyland, Andy O’Reilly, Adam Maher, Robert McGee.
Referee: David Dunne (Dublin).
DIVISION 1 TABLE
P W D L F A Pt U.C.D. 19 12 3 4 41 23 39 Shelbourne 19 9 8 2 35 14 35 Drogheda Utd 19 10 4 5 39 18 34 Finn Harps 19 10 4 5 26 19 34 Longford Tn 19 9 5 5 36 21 32 Galway Utd 19 8 5 6 32 19 29 Cobh Rblers 19 7 3 9 18 28 24 Cabinteely 19 7 1 11 19 23 22 Wexford F.C. 19 3 3 13 18 45 12 Athlone Town 19 1 2 16 11 65 5
Ryan Nolan of Wexford F.C. battles it out in the air with Cabinteely’s Jack Watson. Dean Kelly celebrates after his late winner sealed all three points.
Striker Aaron Dobbs shields the ball from Cabinteely’s Conor Earley.