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Wexford FC travelled to the UCD Bowl in fine spirits, having defeated Cabinteely 2-0 a fortnight ago and playing with a completely available squad for the first time in many weeks.  Manager Damian Locke made three changes to the starting XI, with Adam Hanlon, Conor Sutton and Mark Slater all coming into the side.

However, it was the Students who would start brightly, and on three minutes there was danger for the Wexford defence. Winger Jason McClelland swung a good ball in to the far post where Georgie Kelly was lurking, but he just couldn’t make the vital connection. Sean Hurley instead managed to clear the ball to safety.

Wexford responded immediately through Adam Hanlon, who made a blistering start to the game. Best of his early contributions came on the five minute mark, when he carved open the UCD defence to dispatch a quality cross from the right. It arrived nicely for Dean Kelly, who failed to keep his shot down.

Chances came throughout the game for Wexford, but UCD would also look dangerous throughout. On fourteen minutes Jason McClelland was tempted into a strike from distance, and his shot forced the first of many good saves from keeper Danny Bolger.

A more worrying moment came on the quarter hour mark, when a UCD corner was not dealt with by the Wexford defence, resulting in 3 hasty attempts to get UCD’s opener, but no player could make a clear touch. The glorious chance eventually coming to nothing.

From this point Wexford grew into the game, and UCD chances become a rarer find. However, on 36 minutes UCD would have one more gilt-edged first half opportunity, when a quality through-ball found Georgie Kelly one-on-one with Danny Bolger. The retreating Ross Kenny did just enough to put off Kelly, and his shot was blasted wide. The sides went into the break scoreless.

Chances were at a premium throughout the second half, as both sides became more comfortable with holding possession. It was again Adam Hanlon who provided Wexford’s first chance of the second half, when he was unleashed down the left and pulled a good ball back to Mark Slater. Slater this time found the target, but the shot was straight at the College keeper Niall Corbet.

The majority of the second half was a quiet affair, with very few clear cut chances for either side. Just as it looked to be drawing to a close, UCD found a late opening goal.  With just 15 remaining, it came from Rob Manley seemingly from nothing.  A cross in from the left, McClelland once again, found Manley with enough room to work with in the danger. He made a composed finish into the bottom left corner for 1-0 to the home side.

Wexford continued to create chances, and on 80 minutes a good ball over the top found in-form substitute Dean George with room to shoot. Corbet was called into action yet again, and did manage to tip it away for a corner.

It was to be UCD’s day in the end, and it looked to have gone from bad to worse on 85 minutes when goalscorer Rob Manley was hauled down in the box. Up stepped Gary O’Neill for the penalty, but Danny Bolger made it two from two with a second consecutive penalty save in two games. 1-0 it finished to the home side in the UCD bowl, and a late goal in the Athlone Town Stadium meant Wexford stayed 2 points clear of their nearest rival.

Attendance: 250 (est)

UCD: Niall Corbet, Daniel Tobin, Evan Osam, Josh Collins, Maxim Kouogun, Andrew O'Reilly (Gary O'Neil, 64), Rob Manley, Timmy Molloy (Daire O'Connor, 64), Cian Kavanagh, Georgie Kelly, Jason McClelland (Conor Crowley, 89). Not used: Conor Kearns, Joe Manley, Simon Power, Ben Hanrahan

Wexford FC: Danny Bolger, Craig McCabe, Sean Hurley, Ross Kenny, Owen McCormack, Conor Sutton (Danny Doyle, 80), Mark Slater (Dean George, 72), Mikey Byrne, Aaron Dobbs, Dean Kelly, Adam Hanlon (Aaron O'Connor, 84). Not used: Adam Dempsey, AJ Lehane, Andy O'Connor, Eoin Porter

Referee: Marc Lynch

 

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CURRENT STANDINGS

League of Ireland First Division

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7 Wexford FC 28 -25 19
8 Athlone Town 28 -50 17

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8 Cabinteely 18 -14 18
9 Wexford FC 18 -15 16
10 Bray Wanderers 18 -24 10

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9 Wexford FC 20 -17 19
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