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Monday 17 December 2018

Promotion-chasing Shels fight back to deny Wexford

Soccer: SSE Airtricity League First Division - Wexford F.C. 1 Shelbourne 2

Aaron Dobbs of Wexford F.C. battles with Shelbourne’s Derek Prendergast in the air.
Aaron Dobbs of Wexford F.C. battles with Shelbourne’s Derek Prendergast in the air.

Dave Devereux

After a limp season, Wexford at least gave their long-suffering home faithful something to get their teeth into and the supporters could cling on to the faint hope of taking a point from the game right up until the referee's final whistle.

That's something that has been severely lacking for large chunks of this undrwhelming season.

There have been too many games when Wexford looked like they had thrown in the towel after conceding, as the few hardy souls that kept the faith were forced to watch on in silence with gritted teeth.

If you put the horrible cup drubbing at the hands of Bohemians to one side, at least the last two league home games, against Drogheda United and Shelbourne, gave the crowd their monies worth.

Aaron Dobbs bagged his sixth goal of the season as they succumbed to high-flying Shelbourne at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday, moving him to the top of the scorer's charts at the club this season.

That in itself tells a story. Of course it's far from a new problem at Ferrycarrig Park as departed midfielder Thomas Croke was their main source of goals last season, with a rather modest half dozen, a figure which hopefully Dobbs can eclipse in their remaining fixtures.

Teams need a striker to be getting well into double figures if they are to have any hope of making an impact in the hard slog of the First Division.

That said, a goal-scorer is very much dependent on good service, something which Wexford have also been severely lacking, and the clearly talented Dobbs has had his season severely truncated due to an injury-plagued campaign.

Had the player on loan from Shamrock Rovers got more games under his belt the goals would surely have flowed more freely.

In Greg Moorhouse, Shelbourne look to have got their hands on a player capable of hitting the back of the net with the kind of regularity you need.

The recent acquisition from Sligo Rovers was certainly no stranger to getting his name on the scoresheet in his Crumlin United days and on Friday he showed he has lost none of his predatory instincts and his well-taken second-half double rescued the spoils for Shelbourne from a seemingly precarious position in a high-octane SSE Airtricity League First Division encounter.

The visitors were up against it, trailing 1-0 at the break, but they produced the goods after the interval to keep the momentum going with the play-offs fast approaching.

The hosts began the game brightly and Dobbs had a chance to fire them in front inside the opening five minutes.

Dean Walsh ran on to Danny Doyle's cross from the right and got a good shot away and when his effort was parried by the goalkeeper, Dobbs blazed over the crossbar.

Shelbourne came desperately close to breaking the deadlock in 18th minute when Davy O'Sullivan got on the end of a Lorcan Fitzgerald corner, but he saw his effort come back off the crossbar.

In the 35th minute they again threatened from a flag-kick, with Colum Feeney doing well to block Derek Prendergast's header, from another Fitzgerald delivery.

Dobbs grabbed the opener in the 39th minute, pouncing on a defensive error to toe-poke the ball to an empty with goalkeeper Dean Delany stranded.

However, the visitors were back on level terms within eight minutes of the restart. Karl Moore floated a delightful ball into the danger zone and Moorhouse glanced a header to the net.

In the aftermath Wexford goalkeeper Colum Feeney had to be replaced following an unfortunate collision, and after lengthy treatment on the perimeter of the pitch, he was dispatched to hospital to be assessed for severe concussion.

After being released from hospital on Sunday morning he now faces a spell on the sidelines.

Shelbourne went for the jugular after drawing level, with Patrick Kavanagh sending in a teasing cross from the right, but Davy O'Sullivan fired an effort narrowly wide of the right post.

On the hour mark they threatened again, when Alan Byrne got on the end of a dangerous Lorcan Fitzgerald delivery but his effort drifted off target.

Two minutes later it was Wexford's turn to show attacking intent when Dean Walsh raced in on goal, but with defenders closing in, he dragged his shot wide of the right post.

Shelbourne completed the turnaround in the 70th minute, and it was that man Moorhouse who again did the needful.

Patrick Kavanagh delivered a deep cross from the right wing which Adam Evans headed back into the mix and Moorhouse applied a neat finish, hooking the ball past replacement goalkeeper Kelan Gaffney to fire the Dubliners in front.

Wexford tried to rescue something from the game but the closest they came was when substitute Adham Masood warmed the goalkeeper's gloves in the 84th minute and when Dean Walsh fizzed a late free-kick narrowly over the bar.

Another defeat for Wexford F.C., but at least they weren't lacking in effort and their willingness to get the ball forward made for a decent atmosphere at a ground that has been almost funereal at times during a trying campaign.

Wexford F.C.: Colum Feeney, Mark Slater, Owen McCormack, Ross Kenny (capt.), John Morgan, Danny Doyle, Paddy Cahill, Conor Sutton, Dean George, Dean Walsh, Aaron Dobbs. Subs. - Kelan Gaffney for Feeney (inj., 54), Ryan Nolan for Dobbs (62), Adham Masood for George (77).

Shelbourne: Dean Delany (capt.), John Ross Wilson, Derek Prendergast, Reece McEnteer, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Greg Moorhouse, Alan Byrne, Karl Moore, Adam Evans, Patrick Kavanagh, Davy O'Sullivan.

Referee: Robert Dowling.

Wexford People

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