Rochford hits late equaliser
Deadlock in first U-17 tie
Adam Rochford came off the bench to rescue a point for Wexford Youths with a goal deep in injury time after a spirited performance in their SSE Airtricity Under-17 League Section 1 opener in Ferrycarrig Park on Sunday.
Wexford Youths 1 Bray Wanderers 1
In the 93rd minute Vinny Quinlan sent in an inviting cross from the right that was just begging to be finished to the net, and substitute Rochford made no mistake, heading the ball beyond the reach of Bray Wanderers goalkeeper Jack Henry.
It was hard on Bray, as although Wexford Youths had enjoyed good spells of possession, chances were at a premium and they had failed to seriously work the goalkeeper up to that point.
Wanderers were well on top for the third quarter and will rue the fact that they only managed one goal during that period of dominance.
They flew out of the traps after the half-time break with David Gilshenan breaking the deadlock within a minute of the re-start, but despite creating chances they couldn't force the second goal which surely would have killed off the contest.
Wexford Youths started quite brightly and in the tenth minute Ciarán Murphy sent in a teasing free-kick from the left wing. It look like one of the inrushing players was sure to get a touch, but it evaded them all and the Bray Wanderers defence breathed a collective sigh of relief.
The home side were spraying the ball around well but chances were few and far between and two speculative efforts from Ciarán Murphy were as close as they came, with one easily gathered by Jack Henry and the other blocked by a defender.
Bray sprang to life just after the half-hour mark when Shane Heffernan fed David Gilshenan, whose dinked effort cleared Wexford goalkeeper Adam Dunbar but also the crossbar.
Dunbar was called into action a minute later when he pulled off a truly outstanding save from Heffernan's expertly-struck half-volley. The ball looked destined to arrow into the top corner of the net but Dunbar leaped gazelle-like to fingertip it around the post.
However, there was nothing the goalkeeper could do to prevent the Seagulls from taking the lead in the first minute of the second-half when Gilshenan stabbed the ball into the net from close range after an Eddie Black shot had deflected into his path.
Bray's tails were up at this stage and they really should have added to their tally. A 52nd-minute free from Cameron Brennan was headed over by Adam O'Brien and a minute later Shane Heffernan turned on a sixpence before shooting wide of the target.
Wexford Youths stuck to the task and played their way back into the game, pegging their opponents back for the final 20 minutes but they were still finding it tough to prise open the Bray defence.
The hosts did create a half-chance in the 77th minute when Danny Doyle fired in a cross and Chris Phelan's overhead effort sailed over the crossbar, but Bray came agonisingly close to sealing the deal on 85 minutes.
Shane Heffernan found himself in space on the left and tried an audacious, curling effort from 30 yards which just rose over the crossbar.
The Youths never let their heads drop and continued to play until the final whistle, getting their reward when Rochford applied the finish to a superb Quinlan cross in the third minute of injury time.
Wexford Youths: Adam Dunbar, Martin O'Connor, Jack Bates, Chris Phelan, Ronan Devereux, Cormac Kehoe, Ciarán Murphy, Steve Hempenstall, Danny Doyle, Vinny Quinlan, Conor McGrath. Subs. - Michael Gardiner for Kehoe, Michael Molloy for Bates, Adam Rochford for Phelan.
Bray Wanderers: Jack Henry, Cormac Kelly, Luke Clucas, Kieran Butler, Adam O'Brien, Cameron Brennan, Eddie Black, Pat Leonard, Evan White, David Gilshenan, Shane Heffernan. Subs. - Aaron Malone for Butler, Karl Doyle for Gilshenan, David Mulligan for Black.
Referee: James Kelly.