Match Report: Wexford FC 1 - 1 UCD
It was a game of two differing halves on Friday night in Ferrycarrig Park. A goal a piece in the second half seen the students return home with just a point after a late equaliser from captain Gary O'Neill.
UCD started the game much the better. It took just 6 minutes for Georgie Kelly's first chance of the night, his glancing header falling narrowly wide of the upright after UCD skipper Gary O'Neill had crossed from the left.
Wexford tried to play football, and there was some excellent hold up play from front man Craig Hayes. His size was certainly a problem to the UCD back line. Liam Donnelly tried to play Thomas Croke in, but unfortunately a bad touch let the defenders in, before he could get his shot away.
After half an hour of play mostly dominated by UCD, the home crowd was lifted when Sean Hurley took possession of the football inside his own half and galloped in to the UCD half. His diagonal pass was picked up by Craig Hayes on the right hand side, but his cross was just out of reach of Thomas Croke. Just a minute later though, play was back down the other end. The visitors tried to play a ball around Craig McCabe. As McCabe tried to adjust, he stumbled and fell to the ground, instinctively putting his arm out to stop the ball reaching Georgie Kelly who would have been through on goal. As McCabe buried his head in the turf, he must of been expecting what most of the people in the stand were expecting, but the referee showed leniency and only produced yellow.
For the rest of the half, UCD continued the exert pressure on the home side. A cross cleared by Ross Kenny only fell as far as Gary O'Neill. His rasping shot from the edge of the penalty area was expertly tipped away by Graham Doyle in the home goal.
Then just two minutes before the break, UCD had the perfect opportunity to make their pressure pay. Andy O'Connor was adjudged to have pushed Kelly in the box, and although the referee was oblivious to it, the assistant referee waved his flag for the foul, and the spot kick was awarded. Gary O'Neill stepped up right footed, but Graham Doyle in the goal, dived smartly to his right and pushed the ball away for a corner.
That was how the first half ended, and UCD were surely disappointed not to be leading.
When the teams returned for the second half, it was clear that Wexford had been persuaded to play a little better. Shane Dunne immediately took the game by the scruff of the neck, and as in previous games this season, was instrumental in driving the team forward. The pass of choice for the second half seemed to be out left to Sean Hurley who found himself in acres of space time and time again. On at least 3 occasions he found himself in a shooting position, but each time, his shot was just over the bar.
The break through finally came in the 51st minute. After good play down the right from Craig Hayes, the UCD defence managed to clear for a corner. Andrew O'Connor stood over the dead ball from the Wexford right, and played it short to Dunne. Dunne's cross was deep, but there was Ross Kenny waiting at the back post to head home. Niall Corbet managed to get a hand to it, but there was such power on the header, he couldn't keep it out.
Wexford were now looking like the better team. Neat play throughout the team, and an energetic Ricky Fox driving forward at every opportunity, gave the home side the edge. In the 65th minute, Hayes was unlucky not to score. Having chased Kouogan down, the defender laid the ball back to Corbet in the UCD goal. Corbet's touch was poor though, and it allowed Hayes to nip in. Hayes hit it first time, but his shot curled just over the bar.
With just 5 minutes to go however, UCD managed to level the game. A free kick was awarded for a push right on the edge of the box, centre of goal. The left footed Jason McClelland and Gary O'Neill stood over the ball, but there was only going to be one man to strike the ball. O'Neill's free kick was almost perfect as it cleared the wall and began to dip. Just out of the reach of Doyle, the ball hit the underside of the cross bar and nestled in the back of the net.
It must have felt like a defeat for Wexford having conceded so late, but in truth UCD were much the better team in the first half and perhaps a draw was a fair result.
Next up for Wexford is a South East derby against Waterford FC in the EA Sports Cup on Tuesday evening at Ferrycarrig Park, kick off 8:00pm
Wexford FC: Graham Doyle, Ricky Fox, Andrew O'Connor, Ross Kenny, Craig McCabe, Thomas Croke (Sean Eve, 66), Sean Hurley, Craig Wall, Craig Hayes (Jamie Fox, 83), Shane Dunne, Liam Donnelly. Not used: Owen McCormack, Conor Sutton, Lee Duffy, Corey Chambers.
UCD: Niall Corbet, Daniel Tobin (Daire O'Connor, 59), Evan Osam, Liam Scales, Maxim Kouogan, Greg Sloggett, Rob Manley (Josh Collins, 73), Gary O'Neill, Georgie Kelly, Cian Kavanagh (Ben Hanrahan, 84), Jason McClelland. Not used: Sean Coyne, Conor Crowley, Gareth Coughlan.
Feel like I'm after running 2 marathons 😂sick we didn't get the 3 points..lot of positives tho ⚽️#wexfordfc— Thomas Croke (@crokey77) March 17, 2017
Top picture courtesy of John Harpur
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