Six games since last loss for Under-17 side
Wexford Youths recorded their sixth unbeaten game in succession with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Cabinteely in their SSE Airtricity Under-17 League Section 1 match in Ferrycarrig Park on Sunday.
Wexford Youths 1 Cabinteely 1
With only goal difference separating the two sides in third and fourth, it was crucial that neither came out without at least a share of the spoils.
The game started at a feverish pace, with tackles flying and heart rates racing, but neither side could gain the composure to test either goalkeeper in the opening 15 minutes. However, the away 'keeper was called into action first. A poor headed clearance fell perfectly at the feet of Craig Hayes who pulled a decent save out of Seán Hyland. Minutes later, Ivan Meegan also went close for Youths with a free-kick.
Cabinteely had a chance when Dylan Fleming headed a Gavin Howard corner just wide, but the Ferrycarrig side finished the half much stronger.
They put together their most threatening move so far in the 32nd minute. Hayes' blocked shot fell to Meegan who whipped a dangerous cross into the box which beat Hyland but just lacked someone to tap in.
Hayes was causing problems and moments later he burst through the middle of the Cabinteely defence, only to see his effort well saved again by Hyland.
Youths were given a scare just prior to the whistle when Howard picked out Adam Breach with a long ball. Breach elected to hit across the 'keeper but his effort was matched by Adam Dunbar between the sticks.
Youths continued to dominate proceedings in the second period. Meegan scuffed a great opportunity to open the scoring and Danny Doyle was denied by Hyland's outstretched leg when he got on the end of a Hayes knock-on.
The deadlock was broken against the run of play in the 74th minute by the away side. Ross Broderick found space on the right wing before delivering an inch-perfect cross to the back post which found Jordan Awore who volleyed home.
Determined not to be defeated by this sucker punch, Wexford knew they needed a quick reply and they got it within five minutes of going behind.
Hayes controlled a long ball well with the outside of his right foot, raced toward the byline and pulled back a low, sweeping cross which was met by Michael Carroll whose left-footed shot clipped the underside of the bar before rippling the net.
It's difficult to say how important Dunbar's save will be, but choosing to dive to his left against Howard's penalty kick could play a major role in his side's season. A minute after drawing level, Cian Larkin had brought down Joseph Rafferty in the penalty area. However, the Dubliners were left disappointed after Dunbar's clutch stop.
Neither side could find a winner in the closing minutes and the draw keeps Wexford Youths fourth in the table but still in with a realistic shout of reaching the quarter-finals with four games to go.
Wexford Youths: Adam Dunbar, Jack Bates, Martin O'Connor (capt.), Cian Larkin, Ronan Devereux, Danny Doyle, Michael Carroll, Stephen Hempenstall, Vincent Quinlan, Craig Hynes, Ivan Meegan. Subs. - Ronan O'Kelly for Meegan (66), Cormac Kehoe for Larkin (82), Conor McGrath for Carroll (86), also Chris Phelan, Adam Rochford, Ciarán Murphy, Adam Dempsey.
Cabinteely: Seán Hyland (capt.), Adam Maher, Jamie Broderick, Dylan Fleming, Robert Keogh, Gavin Howard, Jordan Awore, Ross Broderick, Ryan Byrne, Dylan O'Connor, Adam Breach. Subs. - Craig Canty for Breach (66), Joseph Rafferty for O'Connor (75), Adam Finlay for Keogh (84), also Quenton Kavanagh, Eoghan O'Neill, Shaquille Khan.
Referee: Noel O'Connor (Wexford).