Home and away clashes with students will have signifcant bearing
Going into Friday's game, Wexford Youths were starting out in second place in the table, beginning what the club termed as 'the final push' towards the title with nine league matches remaining at that stage.
They emerged from the first of these nine big games with a 2-0 win over Finn Harps which sent them back to the top, but they have some daunting and exciting tussles ahead of them to the end of the season.
They have five home games remaining with three away, but how they fare over the coming weeks could have a crucial bearing on their push for promotion to the top flight.
They continue their chase for three further points at home to Cabinteely F.C. this Friday (8 p.m.).
When these sides met a few weeks back it took two late goals for the Youths to salvage all three points in Stradbrook, which put their earlier 7-0 home drubbing of the south Dublin side into perspective.
Wexford Youths believe they have now hit the ground running, while three further points would increase the pressure on the sides chasing them, particularly U.C.D. whom they have still to meet in what appear two huge games even at this stage.
Wexford Youths certainly have a lot stronger squad than previous seasons although they have been hit by injuries. Centre-back Stephen Last is out for the remainder of the season with knee ligament damage sustained in the recent away defeat to Athlone Town, while Dean Broaders and Aidan Keenan are also long-term concerns.
Having attracted the largest crowd of the season for last Friday's top of the table clash, the Youths players would appreciate a return of this support, which hopefully will increase, as they continue their chase towards the title.
Obviously manager Shane Keegan will be warning his players to take each game on its merits as it will take another repeat performance to take all three points off an ever-improving Cabinteely outfit.
That apart, the Youths also have those two huge games pencilled in against U.C.D. within a seven-day timeframe. Their postponed game owing to the college side's European commitments will now take place at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday, September 11, with the Youths having to travel to the Belfield Bowl on the following Friday, while their final game of the season is away to Finn Harps.
The full Wexford Youths run-in is: August 14, home to Cabinteely; August 28, away to Waterford United; September 5, home to Cobh Ramblers; September 11, home to U.C.D.; September 18, away to U.C.D.; September 25, home to Athlone Town; October 9, home to Shelbourne; October 17, away to Finn Harps.
Meanwhile, Danny Furlong is emerging as one of the leading strikers in the SSE Airtricity League.
The centre-forward has teased and tormented defences all season as his two goals against league leaders Finn Harps showed in front of the largest home crowd of the campaign.
Furlong's double strike took his season's tally to 19 goals, leaving him as the top marksmen in the league. Second-placed Ryan Swan (U.C.D.) is on ten goals.
A second Youths player, Aidan Keenan, who is currently out injured, is on six goals, but prolific goalscorer Furlong is proving crucial to his side going top of the league, continuing their push towards promotion.
After a spell with Cork City and Waterford United, Furlong returned to home soil last season, but he really has blossomed through the current campaign with some stunning goals. He has now established himself as one of the leading strikers in the league.