Gleeson grabs a late leveller
Leighton Gleeson drilled home an 87th-minute equaliser as Wexford started their Oscar Traynor Trophy campaign with a creditable draw against hosts A.U.L. in Clonshaugh on Saturday.
A.U.L. 2 Wexford League 2
The Courtown Hibs man made the most of Warren Broaders winning the ball back on the edge of the A.U.L. box, taking his team-mate's sidewards pass and dispatching it past 'keeper Jason Morgan off the inside of his right-hand post.
It was just desserts for a Wexford team which battled hard and were a little unlucky to find themselves behind.
Realistically a draw was a fair result, with John Godkin's side shading the first-half, only for A.U.L. to respond after the break.
A frantic first ten minutes saw the ball pinging around midfield a lot but chances were few and far between.
Gleeson slipped Kyle Dempsey away in the 14th minute but a close offside call went against the visitors.
Gleeson was provider of the ball down the left moments later that sent Eugene O'Brien haring away.
The Wexford winger put a fine ball across the face of goal but John Peare's touch wasn't strong enough to trouble Morgan.
Dempsey's long-range volley was deflected over the crossbar in the 24th minute but the winning of the corner proved vital.
Peare swung the ball in, Dempsey flicked it off to O'Brien, and he sent a sensational right-footed strike into the far top corner of Morgan's net.
Jake Donnelly's free-kick, that drifted harmlessly across the face of goal and behind in the 33rd minute, was as close as A.U.L. came to netting in the opening half. Just before the break Lee Wadding-Byrne smashed a long-range effort well wide at the other end.
The pace of the game had slowed as the half wore on and Wexford re-emerged from the interval with the same tempo. However, their opponents had other ideas and started the second like both had begun the first.
Within 60 seconds Lee Walker was forced into a smart save by Jake Donnelly after some hesitant defending. There was nothing the North End United stopper could do to deny Jordan Buckley though when he latched on to a hopeful punt forward and slotted low to the net two minutes later.
Wexford slowly got back up to pace and could, maybe should, have taken the lead in the 62nd minute. Dale Flynn got into a great position on the right, drew the goalkeeper and forced a save.
The ball ricocheted to Dempsey, and then to Peare, but neither could provide the finish.
Dempsey headed over from Ryan Mahon's left wing cross in the 66th minute, and the Wexford left-back then broke onto a loose ball and thumped wide from distance. With the hosts throwing more men forward, another goal always looked likely.
It came with ten minutes remaining. Buckley got away in space on the right wing, the visiting defence was stretched, and the A.U.L. winger crossed for substitute Ronan Murtagh to calmly side-foot low to the Wexford net.
Seven minutes later, Gleeson fired his side level. It looked destined to stay that way until Murtagh got away on the right six minutes into added-time. He crossed for Darren Murphy but his right foot volley cracked off the post and rebounded to safety.
Luckily for Wexford they survived the close call and took a valuable point back to the south-east. John Godkin's side still have group games against U.C.L. and the Defence Forces to come as they look to advance to the knockout stages.
Wexford: Lee Walker; Warren Broaders, Robin Dempsey, Gareth McCurtin, Ryan Mahon; Dale Flynn, Lee Wadding-Byrne, Leighton Gleeson, Eugene O'Brien; John Peare, Kyle Dempsey. Subs. - Connal Flood for Peare (73), Colin O'Brien for E. O'Brien (73), James Peare for Flynn (86); not used: Alan Tobin, John Staples, Paídí Cullen, Daryll Walsh, also Glen Hughes, Aaron Kehoe.
A.U.L.: Jason Morgan; Philip McMillan, Darren Murphy, Jeff Flood, Anthony Corcoran; Danny Joyce; Jordan Buckley, Leroy Staunton, Carl Young, Robert Monaghan; Jake Donnelly. Subs. - Garrett Kilkenny for Young (65), Peter Hopkins for Staunton, inj. (73), Ronan Murtagh for Donnelly (75), Calvin Douglas for Monaghan (77), also Robert Martin, Troy Carey, Aaron McKenna.
Referee: Liam McGuirk.