Women edge closer to title
UCD Waves 0 Wexford Youths 2
Wexford Youths moved to within two victories of reclaiming the Continental Tyres Women's National League title with a relatively comfortable success against UCD Waves in Jackson Park on Sunday.
The visitors received a big boost before kick-off with the news that Irish international Aine O'Gorman was out injured, and without their star the hosts were toothless in the attacking third of the field.
Waves still had plenty of the ball in midfield and kept it reasonably well. They looked to feed Dearbhaile Beirne down the right and she got into some great positions, but a mixture of a poor final ball and lack of viable options put paid to those advances.
To be fair to the Wexford defence, they hardly gave up a clearcut chance all afternoon. They were again shielded by the excellent Edel Kennedy, with her return to the starting line-up a big reason behind an ever-improving defensive record.
In the attacking third of the field Wexford didn't always better the fairly defensive hosts. They did look threatening when they managed to get the ball into areas that took out the holding midfielder and that isolated defenders.
The hosts' best chance of the game was the first of any significance in the fourth minute. Only a slip by Nicola Sinnott let Catherine Cronin away but her shot was too close to Sophie Lenehan and the Wexford stopper easily saved.
Into the breeze, Jess Gleeson's ball from deep found Kylie Murphy in the box. Her effort was blocked as far as Kennedy but the midfielder drilled her effort wide from just inside the area.
When Wexford took the lead in the 24th minute it was the first time either winger got into a good, deep position. After Kennedy's industry in midfield, Linda Douglas' superb attitude saw her get the better of Chloe Mustaki.
Douglas fired in a low cross that O'Riordan diverted, on the stretch, through the legs of Brooke Dunne and it trickled over the line. Lauren Dwyer nodded Frawley's cross well wide in the 32nd minute as Youths started to look more dangerous.
Kennedy's ball from deep was flicked on by Murphy, into the path of Douglas nine minutes before the break, but Dunne got down well to smother the winger's shot.
Nicola Sinnott floated a ball in that held up in the breeze but it made O'Riordan's chances of making a good connection near impossible.
Playing with the breeze after the break, Kylie Murphy snapped at a long-range shot and it whizzed well wide. After the early sighter, Wexford were penned in their own half for much of the next 15 minutes without allowing a clear sight of goal.
Given her performance, and her defensive capabilities, Linda Douglas might have felt a little disappointed to be withdrawn over a quiet Frawley. However, the manager's decision would be vindicated later in the game.
After struggling for a while, one moment got Wexford going again. Kennedy won back tough possession in midfield and immediately played the perfect ball through to Claire O'Riordan. The Wexford striker, one-on-one with Dunne, had plenty of time to pick her spot but she fired wide.
Claire Walsh fizzed in a low 40-yarder that Sophie Lenehan had to keep a close eye on. That strike was nothing compared to Jarrett's that cannoned off the crossbar with Dunne well beaten in the 67th minute.
Jarrett slipped Orla Casey in with ten minutes left but Dunne blocked the shot at the Youths midfielder's feet. Three minutes later the visitors wrapped up the points.
Edel Kennedy slipped Frawley away on the left, and she beat former team-mate Ally O'Keeffe for pace and slotted low past Dunne to the opposite corner.
Katrina Parrock drilled into the side-netting from Jarrett's pull-back with three minutes of normal time to go. Wexford missed again in injury-time when Frawley fed Jarrett, as the Youths substitute cut inside two defenders but flashed wildly over the crossbar.
Bigger attacking tests lie ahead for Wexford. They face Cork City and Clare Shine in the Cup semi-final in Bunclody on Saturday afternoon before returning to league action with the critical top of the table clash against an Amber Barrett-led Peamount seven days later.
Wexford Youths: Sophie Lenehan; Nicola Sinnott, Jess Gleeson, Orlaith Conlon, Lauren Dwyer; Edel Kennedy; Linda Douglas, Kylie Murphy (capt.), Emma Hansberry, Aisling Frawley; Claire O'Riordan. Subs. - Rianna Jarrett for Douglas (64), Orla Casey for O'Riordan (77), Katrina Parrock for Hansberry (85), also Jenny O'Keeffe, Amy Wilson, Siobhán Doolan, Aoibhín Webb.
UCD Waves: Brooke Dunne; Ally O'Keeffe, Emily Cahill, Claire Walsh (capt.), Chloe Mustaki; Sinéad Gaynor; Dearbhaile Beirne, Orlagh Nolan, Karen Duggan, Catherine Cronin; Kerri Letmon. Subs. - Rebekah Carroll for Gaynor (53), Naima Chemaou for Cronin (75), Lauren Kelly for Letmon (75), also Erica Turner, Chelsee Snell, Orla Haran, Keelin McEntee.
Referee: Gavin Colfer (Dublin).