Ruthless Rossiter fires Albion clear
Cian Rossiter helped himself to a hat-trick that eventually helped Wexford Albion to increase their lead at the top of the table as they convincingly saw off second-placed Ballymurn Celtic in their Division 5 clash at Coolcotts Lane on Sunday.
Wexford Albion 4 Ballymurn Celtic 0
Albion were looking for three home points to secure their place at the top, and they set about grabbing the vital scores through an opening 45 minutes which they dominated for the most part.
Confident at the back, and controlling midfield, they had a striker in sparkling form in Rossiter who certainly made his presence felt during that opening period.
Ballymurn were trying to hold on while playing into the strong breeze, but inside seven minutes their defence was caught square, allowing acres of space for O'Connor to race on to a Brian Murphy through ball to the left edge of the area.
Rossiter still had some work to do, but displayed an excellent first touch as he kept his composure to steer a low shot beyond the reach of advancing 'keeper James White to make it 1-0 after just seven minutes.
Clearly shaken by the concession of this early goal, it took some desperate defending from Willie Leslie and Daithí Redmond to keep the home front runners at bay, while White had to be alert to deny both Rossiter and Ben Nolan who fired in excellent shots from the edge of the area.
Ballymurn were trying desperately to rescue the situation and their main threat up front was coming through Jack McAuliffe, who was making some excellent runs down the left. However, on each occasion he was denied by excellent defending as he cut into the area in an effort to get a shot on goal.
One had to wait until the 37th minute for the game's second goal. Rossiter ran on to a flicked ball into the area from Danny Walsh, but was brought down as he was about to pull the trigger.
Rossiter picked himself up to send the 'keeper the wrong way, and his penalty into the bottom right-hand corner of the net made it 2-0 which was how it remained until the interval.
Four minutes into the second-half, Ballymurn came close to scoring when Ken King had a downward header cleared off the line over the top for what was a fruitless corner kick.
They continued to press forward in search of their opening goal, but their attempts were mostly reserved for set-pieces, with David Kehoe drilling in a fine 25-metre free-kick that was held by 'keeper Richard O'Reilly at the second attempt. The home netminder had to be alert to another dangerous situation but he somehow managed to deflect a high, hopping ball just over the top.
Eighteen minutes from the end, the visitors' midfielder, David Kehoe, got in a powerful header from a John Whitehead corner kick but his attempt grazed the crossbar, a real let-off for the Albion side.
While Ballymurn were pressing forward, they were leaving lots of space at the back. Seventeen minutes from the end an Ian Malone ball down the right of centre put Luke Dowdall in the clear and he coolly placed a low shot to the bottom right-hand corner of the net, making it 3-0 which was somewhat against the run of play.
Credit to Ballymurn as they were still trying to squeeze something out of the game in the closing ten minutes, with both David Kehoe and Emmet Kane coming close with attempts, but they were unable to find a way through and Rossiter completed his hat-trick as Albion took three valuable points to move clear at the top of the table.
Wexford Albion: Richard O'Reilly, Ross Lynch, Conor Kelly, Mark Lett, Liam Byrne, Brian Murphy, Ian Malone, Colm Heffernan, Danny Walsh, Ben Nolan, Cian Rossiter. Subs. - Danny Whitmore, Benny Creane, Luke Dowdall, Dale Rossiter.
Ballymurn Celtic: James White, Daithí Redmond, Ian Banville, William Leslie, Ken King, Davy Miller, Jack McAuliffe, David Kehoe, John Whitehead, Emmet Kane, Luke Redmond. Subs. - Stephen Dempsey, Shane Whelan, Luke Lacey, Dylan Ring, Ciarán Flanagan.
Referee: Peter O'Rourke.