Albion overcome tough test
Wexford Albion rode their luck but just managed to edge past East End United and into the round of 32 of the S.F.A.I. Skechers Under-12 Cup in Kennedy Park on Saturday.
Wexford Albion 2 East End United 1
The hosts were full value for their 2-1 lead but withstood a crazy moment when East End thought they had scored with just seven minutes left.
Pushing men forward, Gearóid Kent took aim 25 yards from goal and smacked a thunderbolt that cracked the left post, whizzed behind Albion goalkeeper Max Stone and struck his right post before stopping in the long grass on the line.
As East End wheeled away in celebration, thinking that the ball had crossed the goal-line, Albion came away with possession and were able to hang on to take victory and book their place in the national stages of the competition.
Albion had gone close when Darragh Maloney slipped Alex Currid in, but the attacker had been denied by the visiting 'keeper. However, when Currid nipped the ball past Bill Hughes from Alex Kirby's through ball two minutes later, Tadhg Brohan made no mistake with the net gaping.
Currid had a goal disallowed for offside and saw another effort saved by Hughes, but East End slowly settled and saw Aaron Maher flash over from the edge of the area and Conor Murphy bring a classy save out of Max Stone.
Yet, the Wexford town side finished the half stronger as chances for Ethan Ryan and Kaelem O'Connor came and went. It was still 1-0 when, five minutes after half-time, Bill Nolan's shot was deflected and then saved onto the crossbar by an alert Stone.
Wexford kept pressing and got their rewards eight minutes after the re-start. The hosts' management team were busy calling for a stoppage for the injured Cillian Twomey when Currid raced away and executed a deft chip over the onrushing Hughes to make it 2-0.
The Albion defence of Twomey and Kirby, who were well protected by Luke Murphy, were excellent at keeping United's attacking options at bay, but the longer the game wore on the more dangerous East End looked from setpieces.
Indeed, the boys from Bennettsbridge pulled a goal back when Ray Lawson headed home Kent's corner from the edge of the box and nearly equalised when the same duo combined; this time it was an acrobatic overhead kick that had Stone stretching to make the save.
Albion went close to wrapping the game up when Maloney shot off the bar, but as the half wore on the hosts got deeper and deeper and would have been delighted to finally hear the full-time whistle that sent them into the last 32.
Star man: Alex Currid (Wexford Albion) - a real nuisance for the visitors' defence with his off-the-shoulder running and powerful finishing.
Wexford Albion: Max Stone; Cillian Twomey, Alex Kirby; Luke Murphy (capt.); Kaelem O'Connor, Darragh Maloney, Jesse Dempsey; Tadhg Brohan, Alex Currid. Subs. (rolling) - Ben English, Ethan Ryan, Ryan Curran, Sam Day.
East End United: Bill Hughes; Kyle Ryan, Ray Lawson, Gearóid Kent (capt.); Finn Cody, Bill Nolan, Darren Coffey; Tayo Bukare, Conor Murphy. Subs. (rolling) - Aaron Maher, George Sheppard, Seán Byrne.
Referee: Mark Hogan.