Jack's the lad for Wexford
SSE Airtricity League First Division: Wexford FC 2 Athlone Town 0
Goals from Danny Furlong and Jack Doherty fired Wexford FC to a fully-deserved second win of their SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign in gale-force winds in Ferrycarrig Park on Friday evening.
Furlong's opener was his 100th League of Ireland goal of a stellar career, making him the 45th player to achieve the feat, and the 29 year-old is sure to add considerably to that tally in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Furlong, who is also one of only three players to have scored 30-plus goals in a single season, pounced for the opener in the 26th minute and the impressive Doherty made sure the points were going the way of the home side with the second just before the hour mark.
Wexford have to be applauded for their performance, which was made all the more admirable considering the conditions they had to contend with, as the strong, gusting wind made it extremely difficult to thread together any free-flowing passages of play.
They managed to cope with the elements well, however, and had Doherty had his best shooting boots on the winning margin would have been greater.
The strength of the wind can't be downplayed, as not only did it cause problems for the players on the pitch, it also posed difficulties off of it, with the stand having to be evacuated at half-time as a precautionary measure due to safety concerns.
The contest began in scrappy enough fashion, with the sides struggling to deal with the conditions, but the breakthrough came with 25 minutes on the clock when Paddy Cahill spread the ball out to Danny Doyle on the right wing and his cross was just begging being to be turned into the net, and Furlong made no mistake, finishing from close range at the far post.
There was little else of note in an opening 45 minutes which Wexford and the better of without creating much, although Athlone did cause a brief moment of concern in the home defence when Kaleem Simon lifted the ball over the advancing Corey Chambers but the danger was cleared.
The visitors also had a sight of goal three minutes after falling behind, but Seán Callan spread himself well to block Ciarán Grogan's shot.
Athlone began the second-half brightly enough with Simon and Kealan Dillon both trying their luck, but the hosts had an opportunity to double their advantage in the 52nd minute when Jack Doherty played in Nugent but he blazed his shot over the bar.
They didn't have long to wait for their second goal though as they struck again in the 60th minute, with Nugent involved in the build-up.
He played a beautiful ball to Furlong on the right wing, who laid the ball back to Paddy Cahill.
Cahill's cross was touched into the path of Doherty by Danny Doyle, and the attacker made no mistake, rifling a powerful, left-footed shot to the net from just inside the area.
Athlone pushed forward to try to fight their way back into the contest but they failed to create any clear-cut chances, as the Wexford rearguard were in no mood to be breached.
They defended superbly as they held firm for a clean sheet, while they always looked capable of adding to their tally on the break.
Doherty had the chance to wrap it up in the 74th minute when he was put in the clear, but after keeping his composure to go around the goalkeeper he saw his effort cleared off the line.
The busy Doherty, who was an annoying thorn in the side of the Athlone defence all evening, had another sight of goal in the 84th minute when he was put through after a beautiful, flowing move, but goalkeeper Aaron Myles got down well to make the save.
Myles was again called into action in the 90th minute when Doherty played in Nugent, and after his initial effort was saved he scooped the ball over the bar.
Substitute Nika Arevadze forced a fine save out of the netminder deep into injury time, while seconds before the final whistle a long-range effort from the hard-working Paddy Cahill fizzed narrowly wide.
Next up for Brian O'Sullivan's men is an away game to face bottom of the table Galway United at Eamonn Deacy Park, when they will be hoping to avenge the 4-0 defeat they suffered against the westerners at Ferrycarrig Park in their second game of the season.
Wexford F.C.: Corey Chambers; Paddy Cahill, Seán Callan, Chris Kenny (capt.), Darragh O'Connor; Ryan Nolan, Thomas Croke; Danny Doyle, Jack Doherty, Emmet Nugent; Danny Furlong. Subs. - Nika Arevadze for Croke (64), Seán Roche for Furlong (87), Andrew Farrell for Nugent (90), also Jason McGuire, Torik Adegoke.
Athlone Town: Aaron Myles; Rhys Gorman, Ciarán Grogan, Gavin Kearney, Dean Casey; Eoghan Morgan, Evan White, Aaron Brilly (capt.), Kealan Dillon; Kaleem Simon, Dean George. Subs. - Josh Hogan for Gorman, inj. (32), Evan Pierce for White (52), John Morgan for George (77), also J Garmondeh Ta-Uway, Shane Stokes, Kyle Hogan, George Mukete.
Referee: Mark Moynihan.