Saturday 16 December 2017

Culleton forces draw



LEFT FULL-BACK Paul Culleton helped to carve out a draw for Rosslare Rangers with a delightful 82nd-minute goal as they came from two down against ten-man Bunclody in this Wexford Football League Division 1 clash at Rosslare on Sunday last.

The home side were struggling, having fallen behind to a battling Bunclody outfit who struck for two opportunist goals after having Ross Wilson sent-off in the 52nd minute. While they may have been reduced to ten men, it was in the following 20 minutes that they played their best football to deservedly move into a two-goal lead, only to eventually concede under late pressure.

The opening 45 minutes will be remembered more for its missed chances than quality football as both sides suffered stage fright in front of goal. Despite the misses, neither side lost the urge to attack with the result that one was treated to an abundance of movement, but with a lack of penetration up front the deadlock wasn't broken during that opening period.

In truth it was difficult to see where goals were going to come from after an opening 20 minutes dominated by the respective back fours. However, 30 minutes into the game, the home side eventually carved out a chance but David Murphy, after finding himself in a one-on-one with Craig Moules, kept his shot too close to the 'keeper who somehow managed to get a hand to the ball and knock it away to safety.

Bunclody, who had struggled up front, finally created a great opening, only for John Savage to shoot to the wrong side of the post with only 'keeper Wayne O'Leary to beat ten minutes before the break. In the remaining ten minutes the game was mostly played out in midfield so it was no real surprise to see the sides go in 0-0 at the break.

There was far more urgency in the play of both sides on the resumption. The home side piled on the early pressure with David Murphy having a shot from outside the area blocked away to safety. Then came the Wilson red card which changed the whole course of the game.

While one may have expected the home side to show their numerical advantage, it was Bunclody who began to show a glimpse of their attacking qualities. Two minutes after the dismissal they took a dramatic lead when John Savage fired to the net from ten metres, a goal that rocked the seasiders.

As the locals went in search of an equaliser, Mark Furlong had a header well held by 'keeper Moules, while after 62 minutes Paul Boyce beat the offside trap and clipped the ball over the advancing 'keeper, only to see it go the wrong side of the post.

As the home side were beginning to find it increasingly difficult to find an equalising goal, they must have thought their luck was out when Kevin Driver powered a 67th-minute header wide when it looked easier to score.

Bunclody, who had played themselves almost to a standstill, summoned up the energy to counter-attack in numbers, and Savage got on the end of a Shane Ryan cross to beat 'keeper O'Leary from close in, giving his side what appeared a commanding 2-0 lead.

The home side threw on Oscar Pitt up front and he made an immediate impact, being fouled just outside the area, leaving Niall Walsh to tuck the free-kick into the corner of the net nine minutes from the end.

Then it was the turn of full-back Paul Culleton who had looked threatening moving forward. Six minutes from the end, following a fine run down the left, he cut inside to fire a stunning low shot across the 'keeper into the opposite corner of the net, making it 2-2 and giving his side a deserved point in the end.

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