Friday 26 April 2019

Cabo turn tables from the spot

Soccer SSE Airtricity First Division Series 11: Wexford FC 0 Cabinteely FC 1

Dean George of Wexford FC battling for possession with Cabinteely full-back Karl Byrne
Dean George of Wexford FC battling for possession with Cabinteely full-back Karl Byrne

Alan Aherne in Ferrycarrig Park

A lack of ambition and ability was evident in equal measure in Ferrycarrig Park on Friday as Wexford F.C. failed dismally to rise to the challenge after conceding a goal to Cabinteely with two-thirds of this SSE Airtricity First Division clash remaining.

Damian Locke's side had travelled to Stradbrook on the opening night of the season and beaten the south Dubliners 1-0, but that outcome was reversed as they struggled to string any decent passing sequences together and found themselves on the back foot for most of the second-half.

Cabinteely are by no means among the stronger teams in the division, and these are the kind of games that Wexford simply have to be winning if they want to work their way up the table.

It didn't work out that way though, and a bad night was compounded in the 87th minute when captain Ross Kenny was dismissed after a second booking on his comeback league game after serving a two-match suspension.

The centre-half was issued with a straight red in Galway, and a second ban in such a short space of time is certainly not the type of leadership that one would expect from the bearer of the arm band.

The line-ups were significant, in that Wexford started seven of the same players who had featured in the Leinster Senior Cup win against the same opponents just three nights earlier.

The only changes saw Mikey Byrne, Mark Slater, Dean Kelly and Shane Barnes come in for A.J. Lehane, Aaron O'Connor, Ryan Nolan and Danny Doyle respectively, whereas a mere two of the Cabinteely crew: netminder Stephen McGuinness and right winger Keith Dalton, were in the first eleven for both games.

The visitors had a big advantage in terms of freshness as a result, and it clearly showed as the game wore on and they protected their 1-0 lead with relative comfort.

The injured Aaron Dobbs was undoubtedly a big loss up front, although Shane Barnes looked lively in the centre-forward role during the first-half and posed Cabo plenty of problems.

The first decent chance fell to the visitors in the seventh minute when Dean Kelly was caught in possession in a central area by Andy O'Reilly who blazed his shot over the bar.

Barnes then did well to work his way into the box from a Seán Hurley pass, but his low shot went to the left and wide.

Thomas Croke and Dean Kelly had efforts blocked after a half-hearted penalty claim was ignored when Liam McCartan went down in the box.

Similarly, referee Alan Carey wasn't interested in Cabinteely appeals for a handball when Dean George cut out a cross in the 21st minute.

Wexford built on that let-off, with a fine ball over a defender's head on the right by Barnes releasing Mark Slater who was coming up against his old club.

The right winger played a one-two with Dean Kelly before his shot was saved by Stephen McGuinness, although the goalkeeper was merely an onlooker in the 24th minute when the unfortunate Dean George rattled the bar with a dipping shot from distance.

A corner was eventually forced, one of four shared by the teams before the break, and Seán Hurley's delivery was headed into the path of Slater whose powerful volley was a little too high to worry the netminder.

The game's key moment arrived in the 30th minute when the ever-dangerous Kieran Marty Waters contested a long ball on the right edge of the penalty area with Seán Hurley and Ross Kenny.

Hurley carelessly stuck a leg out as Waters took on the defenders, and the penalty was dispatched low and into the left corner by centre-half Conor Keeley.

That goal proved sufficient to give Cabinteely all three points, with Wexford creating one opening close to half-time when a cross-shot by Shane Barnes from the left drifted across goal and wide.

Right-back Karl 'Chopper' Byrne was prominent for the Dubliners throughout the second-half, and his 52nd-minute cross was spilled by Kealan Gaffney who recovered immediately.

Dean Casey shot wide before a Cabo corner from the right found Keeley at the far post, but he was under heavy pressure and his first-time shot flew over the bar.

Gaffney had to dart off his line to deny Casey when he sprinted on to a through ball in the 63rd minute, before Eoin Stokes and Ross Kenny picked up the game's first two yellow cards in quick succession.

The best chance for an equaliser arrived in the 68th minute when Shane Barnes found Mark Slater who slid the ball through for Dean Kelly as Stephen McGuinness advanced.

The goalkeeper saved the shot and, thankfully for Cabinteely, a defender was on hand to head it over for a corner before a Wexford player could latch on to the break.

Kieran Butler was booked for Cabinteely before Karl Byrne had a weak shot saved easily after a menacing run.

However, they were very much on top as the second-half corner count rose to 5-1 in their favour, and they had a man extra for the closing minutes too after Ross Kenny's rash challenge on Kieran Marty Waters after the striker nicked the ball past him led to that second yellow card.

Wexford did exert pressure as the three added minutes announced rose to five, with Cabo substitute Jack Watson booked as they conceded three free-kicks in quick succession.

The first yielded the best chance, with Mark Slater's delivery from the right breaking into the path of substitute Ryan Nolan whose shot flew narrowly over to the leaders' obvious relief.

The only consolation for Wexford on a frustrating weekend was that the team directly above them, Cobh Ramblers, also lost, so they're still just one point below the Cork side and six above Athlone Town.

They met U.C.D. at home yesterday afternoon (Monday) in the series two re-fixture, and there's another game in Ferrycarrig Park this Friday at 8 p.m. when Longford Town pay their first visit of the season after winning 3-0 when the sides met in City Calling Stadium.

Wexford F.C.: Kealan Gaffney; Liam McCartan, Owen McCormack, Ross Kenny (capt.), Seán Hurley; Mikey Byrne, Thomas Croke; Mark Slater, Dean Kelly, Dean George; Shane Barnes. Subs. - Ryan Nolan for Croke (67), Danny Doyle for Kelly (76), also Colum Feeney, Seán Kelly, John Morgan, A.J. Lehane.

Cabinteely F.C.: Stephen McGuinness (capt.); Karl Byrne, Kieran Butler, Conor Keeley, Kevin Knight; Andy O'Reilly, Conor Earley; Keith Dalton, Dean Casey, Eoin Stokes; Kieran Marty Waters. Subs. - Luke Clucas for Stokes (89), Jack Watson for Dalton (90+1), also Finn McGowan, Jack Tuite, Anthony Dolan, Stephen Ball, Seán Bregazzi.

Referee: Alan Carey (Dublin).

Wexford People

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