Culleton hits late winner for Celtic
Just when it looked as if the game was heading for extra-time, Seán Culleton struck for the crucial goal that eventually separated the sides, handing New Ross Celtic a dramatic last-gasp Wexford Cup third round victory over Ferns United at Ferns on Sunday morning.
Ferns United 1 New Ross Celtic 2
The sides were still deadlocked at 1-1 after an action-packed second-half response from the Barrowsiders.
With the game one minute into added time, Culleton kept his nerve, controlling the ball some 20 metres out in front of goal before rifling a left-footed shot through a packed goalmouth into the right-hand corner of the net past a helpless John Thorpe in the home goal, giving his side a dramatic late victory.
While Ferns had enough first-half possession to have put their opponents away, credit must go to the Celtic boys who responded with an action-packed second-half display that eventually produced the two goals to put them into the fourth round draw.
In the end it was no more than they deserved as they totally bossed the second 45 minutes.
The opening ten minutes saw Celtic enjoy passages of excellent football as they laid siege to the Ferns goal, but they were unable to find a way through the home side's back four where Tomás Hawkins was tidying up with aplomb.
Ferns, through the fine midfield play of John Breen and Tommy Dwyer, gradually took control of the game.
Having seen a couple of efforts from Robert Vickers and Ryan Nolan test 'keeper Kevin Grangel, they eventually succeeded in the breaking the deadlock after 17 minutes.
Having won possession in midfield, a neat passing move involving at least four players helped them to create space, with the final ball being pushed through to Vickers.
He calmly slotted low to the left-hand corner of the net out of the reach of 'keeper Grangel, giving his side a 1-0 lead.
Ferns now took the game to their opponents but they fluffed a number of chances of increasing their lead with both Vickers and Nolan failing to avail of openings, while at the opposite end Alan Rhodes had a couple of long-range efforts that went wide of the right post.
Approaching the break, Ferns came close to extending their lead. Centre-back Colin St. Ledger directed a header back towards goal but out of the reach of advancing 'keeper, Grangel, leaving Ethan Butler to get back and clear the ball off the line, with Ferns having to be content with a 1-0 interval lead.
On the resumption, New Ross built a series of promising attacks, with Culleton moving in on goal after just four minutes, only to be denied by the outstretched leg of 'keeper John Thorpe.
With Ferns now pinned back on defence, Celtic continued to seek out an equalising goal, which eventually arrived in the 59th minute after incessant pressure. The home defence failed to clear a long ball into the area, leaving Anthony Feeney to right-foot the loose ball to the net, making it 1-1.
Both sides managed to create some chances in the aftermath of this goal but extra-time was beckoning until Culleton popped up with that last-gasp, dramatic winning goal.
Ferns United: John Thorpe, Keith Breen, Derek Thorpe, Jonny Dwyer, Tomás Hawkins, John Breen, Tommy Dwyer, James Tonks, Robert Vickers, Ryan Nolan, Patrick Skelton. Subs. - Anthony Dwyer, Conor Dwyer, Martin Redmond.
New Ross Celtic: Kevin Grangel, Gary O'Connor, Ethan Butler, Colin St. Ledger, Conor Purcell, Damien Cullen, Seán Culleton, Diarmuid Roche, Anthony Feeney, Alan Rhodes, Aidan Somers. Subs. - Matt O'Neill, Paul O'Leary, Michael Grangel.
Referee: Damien Donovan.