Thwarted in 45 seconds
Wexford FC 1 Cobh Ramblers 2
A disastrous spell lasting a mere 45 seconds cost Wexford F.C. dearly in the persistent rain at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday when the side directly above them in the SSE Airtricity First Division table, Cobh Ramblers, pounced for two quickfire goals that ultimately powered them to victory.
The home side had given as good as they got beforehand against the surprise EA Sports Cup finalists and, indeed, they rallied well in the second-half and managed to halve the deficit when young Adham Masood scored his first goal at this level.
However, that short nightmare spell spanning the 34th and 35th minutes returned to haunt them as they succumbed to a second successive 2-1 defeat on home soil.
Another promising young netminder, Aaron Hall, became the fifth player to man the posts in the 25 league games played thus far, following in the footsteps of Danny Bolger, Kelan Gaffney, Corey Chambers and Colum Feeney respectively.
In fact, a sixth goalie, Seán Maher, was also on the bench for this clash along with Feeney, and they must have felt for their colleague making his debut when he conceded twice in such a short space of time.
The first Cobh Ramblers goal came at the end of a well-worked move down the right, with Stephen Kenny crossing for overlapping full-back Charlie Fleming who teed up David Hurley for a composed finish.
And the Wexford players still hadn't come to terms with that concession when the visitors doubled their lead less than one minute later.
Centre-forward Chris Hull, the goalscoring hero of their EA Sports Cup semi-final versus Dundalk, was allowed to move into the final third with the ball at his feet and without a defender stepping out to make a challenge.
He decided to have a go from distance, and his well-placed shot found the corner of the net despite the best efforts of Hall who dived low to his right in a fruitless bid to keep it out.
Wexford did at least make life difficult for Ramblers by pulling that goal back in the 58th minute.
A Mark Slater cross from the right initially fell to centre-half Owen McCormack - still in the opposition box after a John Morgan free-kick - whose shot was blocked, but the ball broke invitingly for Adham Masood and he volleyed it home to grab his first-ever Senior goal.
There was still plenty of time for Wexford to perhaps snatch a draw at the very least, but they couldn't maintain that pressure and Cobh looked to have regained control in a final quarter devoid of decent chances for either side.
The team had been granted a two-week break since that 2-1 home loss to Shelbourne, as they were idle on the last FAI Cup weekend.
And the starting eleven showed three changes, with Colum Feeney, Paddy Cahill and Aaron Dobbs (on Gaelic football duty with Starlights) replaced by newcomer Aaron Hall, Seán Kelly and Adham Masood respectively. Feeney had taken a very heavy knock in that defeat when he was forced off, but he was fit enough to fill a place on the bench on Friday.
It took a timely nudge by Ross Kenny after a mere 29 seconds to ensure Chris Hull didn't test Hall with a strong shot, but Wexford appeared to be up for it early on, with Danny Doyle a lively presence down the right flank.
He skilfully flicked the ball over a defender's head in the seventh minute before crossing for Conor Sutton to head over, and his next involvement produced a long-range shot that netminder Adam Mylod had to deal with.
And when Sutton's long ball found on-loan striker Dean Walsh in the eleventh minute, his shot from the left squirmed under Mylod at his near post but struck the woodwork before being cleared.
Aaron Hall held a Stephen Kenny shot in the twelfth minute, while Dean George didn't trouble Adam Mylod at the other end from a Walsh pass.
There was no shortage of action, with David Hurley not too far away when he tried his luck from distance for the visitors.
Adham Masood played a neat one-two with Walsh in the 21st minute, but his shot was blocked by centre-half James McSweeney.
Aaron Hall was booked after darting out of his box and conceding a free-kick when Ramblers counter-attacked, only for Stephen Kenny's delivery to be headed wide at the back post by Charlie Fleming.
Cobh captain Shane O'Connor, unusually wearing number 83 on his back, worked an opening for Kenny who didn't get hold of his shot, while Dean Walsh came close to opening his account for Wexford in the 30th minute.
He did well to control a nice lofted pass by Seán Kelly on the right side of the area, before driving a shot across goal and wide.
Thankfully Aaron Hall recovered quickly from a fresh air kick as Chris Hull raced in to close him down, but those goals followed and it was always going to be very difficult to hit back given that Ramblers are on such a high with that EA Sports Cup final against Derry City on the horizon.
Stephen Kenny shot over in the 36th minute as they looked for a third to really kill the game off, while Stephen Christopher entered the notebook before the Cork crew wasted the sole corner of the first-half just before the interval.
Wexford had twice the amount of flag kicks after the break (4-2), and their second in the 52nd minute led to a long-range shot by Mark Slater that yielded a very good save by Adam Mylod.
It looked like the home crew were about to pull a goal back on their next attack when a through ball by Adham Masood found Dean Walsh who rounded Mylod as he darted off his line, but the angle was too tight for him to manage a shot.
The temperatures rose after a hefty challenge by Shane O'Connor near the dug-outs, with the Cobh captain booked along with Wexford's John Morgan for his reaction.
The free-kick still stood for the home side though, and it ultimately led to that goal for Masood to raise the hopes of an all-out comeback.
A third Wexford corner came to nothing before Dean Walsh controlled a deep cross by Dean George and volleyed over in the 63rd minute.
Walsh then started a breakaway and Adham Masood darted down the centre, but he eventually ran out of road and Cobh were able to avert the danger at the expense of a throw-in.
A tackle on Walsh in the box led to half-hearted calls for a penalty, but it only resulted in the final Wexford corner. Dean George sent it to the far post where Conor Sutton killed the ball with a neat first touch, but he couldn't get his shot on target as it veered right and wide.
Aaron Hall had an easy save to make from a weak David Hurley shot before Danny Doyle sold a dummy from a Dean Walsh pass as he had spotted the run of Conor Sutton. However, the Blackwater lad was forced away from goal by some vigilant defending, with the result that netminder Adam Mylod didn't have a save to make.
The Wexford challenge faltered in the last 20 minutes including added time, with Cobh forcing two corners and also creating the only chance in that spell when a strong shot by substitute Cian Leonard was expertly pushed over his crossbar by Aaron Hall.
Three pairs of fresh legs were introduced in the closing stages but, apart from another weak penalty plea for a handball on a Sutton cross in added time, Wexford couldn't create anything of note.
They have a break again this coming Friday as it's another FAI Cup weekend, and their last away trip will be to Eamonn Deacy Park to face Galway United on September 14.
Another season to forget will conclude eight days later when bottom side Athlone Town travel to Ferrycarrig Park and, regardless of results, Wexford cannot finish any higher or lower than ninth place from the ten competing teams.
Wexford F.C.: Aaron Hall; Mark Slater, Owen McCormack, Ross Kenny (capt.), John Morgan; Conor Sutton, Seán Kelly; Danny Doyle, Adham Masood, Dean George; Dean Walsh. Subs. - Paddy Cahill for Kelly (80), Liam McCartan for George (83), Seán Smithers for Masood (87), also Seán Maher, Craig O'Reilly, Colum Feeney.
Cobh Ramblers: Adam Mylod; Charlie Fleming, Gordon Walker, James McSweeney, Ian Mylod; Ben O'Riordan; Stephen Kenny, Shane O'Connor (capt.), David Hurley, Stephen Christopher; Chris Hull. Subs. - Craig Donnellan for O'Riordan (58), Cian Leonard for Hull (58), Jaze Kabia for Kenny (76), also Paul Hunt, Liam Cronin, Matthew Lamb.
Referee: Alan Patchell (Dublin).