Cobh reeled in but still prevail in ten-goal thriller
Wexford F.C.4 Cobh Ramblers 6
Wexford roared back from four goals down to level, only to eventually slip to defeat against title-chasing Cobh Ramblers in the SSE Airtricity Under-19 Southern Elite Division at Ferrycarrig Park on Sunday.
The St. Colman's Park club were in superb form, cutting their hosts to shreds with clever, crisp attacking play in the first-half. Wexford had come into the tie on a two-game win streak and in their best form of the season but were no match for the rampant Rams in the early exchanges.
However, things changed after Cobh went 4-0 up. Wexford played with gay abandon and took the game to the visitors. Tearing the sloppy Cobh defences to shreds, Wexford played some fantastic attacking football to draw level.
At four each it was anyone's game and Wexford had a great chance when a woeful back-header sent Vinny Quinlan away one-on-one with the 'keeper. Off balance, the former Gorey Rangers attacker couldn't hit the target and Cobh regained the lead, and stole the momentum back, shortly after.
The home side were first to create when Quinlan latched onto a loose pass in midfield. He took his time on the ball and released Yaw Aboagye in the right channel but the winger's shot fizzed across goal and narrowly wide.
The visitors quickly came into the game and had their first strike in anger in the 13th minute when David Hurley cracked the crossbar from the edge of the area. His shot was crisp moments later when he volleyed Cian Leonard's knockdown just past the post.
The warnings clearly weren't heeded as Leonard broke behind the hosts' defence and was hacked down by Cian Doyle when in on goal in the 18th minute. He calmly dispatched the penalty, sending Adam Dempsey the wrong way, to open the scoring.
After a settled period in the game, Quinlan fired over from distance for Wexford. It kicked Cobh into gear and they went two up seconds later when Hurley fired home from close range after Kajus Vitkevicius kept the ball alive on the right wing.
They had the ball in the net again in the 37th minute but Darragh Lowth's finish from Hurley's sublime reverse pass was ruled out for offside. Five minutes later it was three as Leonard volleyed home his second after Lowth's initial effort, from Killian Murphy's cross, came down off the crossbar.
Conditions deteriorated considerably after the break but it didn't halt the Ramblers momentum. Five minutes after the re-start Hurley slipped Lowth into the clear on the left and he finished through 'keeper Dempsey's legs.
Vinny Quinlan pulled one back in the 56th minute with a fine strike from the edge of the area but missed a penalty a minute later after Jack Healy was felled in the box. It was 4-2 soon after when Robbie Kane's volley was deflected past Conor Hogan with Cian Doyle lurking.
When Quinlan turned in Adam Feeney's cross at the back post in the 68th minute, the hosts had all the momentum.
With Cobh all over the place at the back, Quinlan crossed for substitute Eoin Curran to head a 78th-minute equaliser. Yet, Ramblers showed their strong mentality and, after Quinlan pulled his great chance to complete a hat-trick wide, Cobh pounced.
The critical goal came in the 84th minute and was courtesy of fantastic play down the left by Hurley. He got into space on the flank and flung in the perfect cross for John Browne, and the Ramblers substitute fired to the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Wexford could have equalised again when Adam Feeney volleyed over the crossbar from Bradley's pull back in the 87th minute, and Neil Murphy also headed a late cross wide at the back post.
With the hosts firing men forward they were caught on the counter-attack at the other end. Cobh wrapped up the win deep into added-time when Killian Murphy sent Lowth away and he calmly stuck the clincher low to the Wexford net to end a fantastic game of football.
Wexford host Bray Wanderers in their penultimate game of the league stages in Ferrycarrig Park this weekend and finish three weeks later with the typically intriguing south-east derby against Waterford F.C.
Wexford: Adam Dempsey; Jack Gallagher, Dion Murphy, Cian Doyle, Adam Rochford (capt.); Mick Gardiner, Vinny Quinlan; Yaw Aboagye, Jack Healy, Dylan Bradley; Adam Feeney. Subs. - Robbie Kane for Aboagye (51), Eoin Curran for Healy, inj. (76), Neil Murphy for Feeney (88), Michael Murphy for Bradley (88), Alan Maher-Broderick.
Cobh Ramblers: Conor Hogan; Jack Allen, Evan Murphy, Stephen O'Connor, Scott McCarthy; Kajus Vitkevicius, Peter Callaghan, Killian Murphy, Darragh Lowth; Cian Leonard, David Hurley. Subs. - Keane Buckley for Leonard (63), Gordon Walker for E. Murphy, inj. (65), John Browne for O'Connor, inj. (74), Ryan O'Regan for Allen (76), also Matthew Lambe.
Referee: Brian Fenlon (Wexford).