Masood goal enough to move Wexford into fifth
U.C.D. 0 Wexford F.C.1
Adham Masoon tapped home Oscar Smith's shot-cum-cross in the 24th minute to give Wexford a hard-earned but well-deserved three points against struggling UCD in the Belfield Bowl on Sunday.
The goal was no more than Wexford deserved as they bossed the game and wouldn't have been flattered by a bigger margin of victory. The win moves the Ferrycarrig Park side into an impressive fifth in the table at the halfway point in their season, just three points off third.
Wexford chose to play Masood up top, with Smith as an auxiliary second striker, and it worked a treat.
Such a formation can put a strain on the centre midfield pairing as they can get outnumbered, but Paddy Barron and Craig O'Reilly were quietly excellent.
Out wide both Stephen Kearns and Brandon Deady were difficult for the hosts to curtail, especially when they got a helping hand, with Smith, and Masood in particular, willing to ease out to provide an overlap.
U.C.D. were given plenty of warning. A simply through-ball sent Masood away inside the first 60 seconds. He looked to flick past Matthew Traynor in the hosts' goal but the 'keeper appeared to handle outside the box.
The officials were good overall but probably got caught cold themselves with Traynor seeming to illegally deny Masood a certain goal. Still, Wexford didn't let the disappointment fester with Smith firing narrowly wide in the fifth minute.
Deady cut in and warmed Traynor's hand with a low bullet. U.C.D. rarely threatened and when they did the Wexford defence always had the answer. Adam Byrne looked to be away for a split second in the 17th minute but Reece Murphy produced a perfectly-timed tackle.
Masood was next to test the hosts 'keeper with a shot that was saved from the edge of the area. Yet, he didn't have to wait long for his goal. When Smith broke away on the right wing Traynor came into no man's land. The Wexford striker chipped him and Masood applied the finishing touches from close range.
Later in the half Dylan Reilly had two bites at the cherry for U.C.D. but struck powerfully at Colum Feeney. At the other end O'Reilly and Kearns combined on the right. The latter crossed but Masood's goal-bound volley cannoned off Danny Bruce and was cleared to safety.
Wexford were a little more careful with the lead after half-time. Smith sat in more often and boss Derek O'Brien switched his charges around positionally, with Masood eventually moving to left and Deady going up top.
The visitors had a great chance to double their lead when Kearns slipped Masood into the clear but Traynor made a solid stop. Later, Reece Murphy drilled a header over from a right-wing Masood corner.
To Wexford's credit, U.C.D. were chasing the game but were of minimal threat. In fact, it was the boys in pink who should have doubled their lead when Caellum Travers-Devlin's free-kick fell to Smith at the back post but he flashed over.
U.C.D. had a couple of late corners that always leave the nerves jangling. They went close in added-time when Hugh Torsveldt crossed.
Luke Hannigan controlled with the unintentional use of his elbow and saw his shot from eight yards out blocked behind.
It would have been cruel on Wexford to concede when they deserved the three points and in the end they held out. It's another visit to south Dublin this coming weekend as they head up the N11 to face Cabinteely on Saturday.
U.C.D.: Matthew Traynor; Seán Madden, Danny Bruce, Dan Mullen (capt.), Charlie Smith; Adam Byrne, Daragh Nugent; Dylan O'Reilly, Hugh Torsveldt, Hugh O'Mahony; Luke Hannigan. Subs. - David Samson for O'Mahony (72), Kealan Sherratt for Bruce (81), also Lewis Kilkenny, Harry McEvoy, Seán Prenter.
Wexford: Colum Feeney; Jack Gallagher (capt.), Kian Kerr, Reece Murphy, Jason Daly; Stephen Kearns, Paddy Barron, Craig O'Reilly, Brandon Deady; Oscar Smith, Adham Masood. Subs. - Cian Foley for Barron (66), Caellum Travers-Devlin for Kerr (78), Ciarán Paige for Smith, inj. (87), Nathan O'Connor for Deady (90+1), also Michael Walsh, James Esser, Kyle Kennedy.
Referee: Oliver Moran (Dublin).