Heartbreak for Wexford Albion
SFAI Cup Under-15: Wexford Albion 4 Douglas Hall (Cork) 4 (AET) Douglas won 6-5 on pens
It may have been painful in the end as Wexford Albion bowed out in the dreaded penalty shoot-out, but they can still reflect back on a tremendous performance against a highly-rated Douglas Hall in this SFAI Cup Under-15 last sixteen game played in Curracloe on Saturday last.
Albion supporters must have been dreaming of a historic place in the quarter-final, when two goals inside the opening four minutes of the second-half sent them into a 3-1 lead, but having claimed the lead they were unable to protect their early second-half supremacy, allowing the visitors back into the game, ultimately paying the penalty.
The visitors, who were hailed as a side of talented youngsters, came up against an inspired Albion side, whose commitment and footballing skills more than matched that of their opponents, but it was during crucial stages of the second period they were unable to control their opponents, allowing them that few extra metres of space to work in, with the result the Cork side fashioned out some well-executed goals to haul themselves back into a game that for a period looked to have gone from them.
The visitors could have had a couple of early goals from well-executed attacking play, but having kept their goal intact, Albion began to play their way into the game, with their hard running and direct style of play, setting a move up down the left with Ryan Curran getting on the end of a low cross to steer a shot under the body of visiting keeper Aaron Mannix giving the home side a 1-0 lead.
One was to witness some fine attacking football from both sides with Douglas getting back level on 25 minutes when Ben Walden floated a 25-metre free-kick over the wall into the top right hand corner of the net making it 1-1 which was how it remained to the interval.
There was an amazing start to the second-half as Albion stormed all over the visitors with two goals inside four minutes.
Just three minutes into the second-half it was sub Tadgh Brohan who picked up a ball to the right of goal before crashing a rising shot to the roof of the net, while one minute later having returned to the attack from the restart, it was Danny Purcell who crashed home having raced onto a long ball holding off several defenders before beating the advancing keeper, making it 3-1.
But when composure was needed, Albion showed a lack of concentration when a long clearance from keeper Mannix was allowed hop in front of goal, and with keeper Luke Murphy hesitant in advancing it was Harry Nevin who eventually headed over the advancing keeper making it 3-2 after 36 minutes.
The goal restored the visitors confidence and on 39 minutes they were back level through a low effort from Zac Dunne.
Still Albion continued to play some fine football but they were caught with a quick Douglas counter-attack that saw Harry Flanagh fire low to the corner of the net giving his side a 4-3 lead with 13 minutes remaining.
Having put so much into the game Albion got a deserved equaliser ten minutes from the end when Danny Purcell showed neat skills on the edge of the area to create space before shooting past the visitors' keeper making it 4-4.
Douglas were presented with a golden opportunity when awarded a penalty four minutes from the end but Harry Nevin fired high over the bar leaving it 4-4 at the end of normal time.
Neither side managed to create a worthwhile chance in extra-time with Douglas eventually prevailing 6-5 on penalties.
Wexford Albion: Eoin Halligan, Ben English, Cillian Twomey, Alex Kiely, Daniel Brazil, Ryan Curran, Danny Purcell, Sam Norval, Luke Farrell, Darragh Maloney, Jessie Dempsey. Subs: Luke Murphy, Matthew Lawsm, Tadgh Brohan, Anthony Macken, Aaron Moran, Jacel Wasalewski.
Douglas Hall: Aaron Mannix, Colin Henderson, Declan Carroll, Conor Twomey, Daniel Apentakis, Gavin O'Shea, Ben Walden, Harry Flanagh, Harry Nevin, Jake Dineen, Zac Dune. Subs: Jay Clarke, Louis dunne, James Burke, Carl Nolan, Dylan Ryan.
Referee: Anthony Tobin (Wexford League).