Saturday 17 August 2019

Two out of three

Youths Women finish second in group

The Wexford Youths Women first eleven for their opening game in Poland last week
The Wexford Youths Women first eleven for their opening game in Poland last week

While Wexford Youths Women didn't progress to the next stage on their UEFA Champions League debut in Poland, they can hold their heads high after winning two games out of three which will whet their appetites for a successful title defence.

Wexford made a winning start on Tuesday against Lithuanian side Gintra Universitetas, winning on a 1-0 scoreline in Kleczew.

Gintra were the top seeds in the group so the victory thanks to Jess Gleeson's 67th-minute free-kick put Will Doyle's side in pole position.

Wexford 'keeper Mary Rose Kelly was called into action in the 12th minute when she denied Ana Alekperova twice in quick succession.

Gintra 'keeper Greta Kaselyté was tested by Claire O'Riordan in the 31st minute and made a solid save then nine minutes later from the same player.

In the 44th minute Gintra had a big opportunity but once again Kelly made a crucial save to keep out a dangerous effort from Ange Nguessan.

In first-half stoppage time Kelly's goal was threatened again but this time Nguessan's attempt narrowly missed the target.

After the break Wexford showed their quality and they duly took the lead through Jess Gleeson's long-range free-kick in the 67th minute after Carol Breen had been fouled 35 yards from the Gintra goal.

Youths pushed hard to extend their lead and in the 70th minute Kaselyté denied O'Riordan again. Linda Douglas also had an effort saved by the Gintra 'keeper two minutes later.

Kaselyté denied debut girl Emma Hansberry in the 75th minute as Youths continued to press for the decisive second goal.

Four minutes into injury-time Kelly's class shone through once more as she denied Rita Akaffou after the same player's initial free-kick has been only partially cleared.

'It was a fantastic result. We did well but they were very good too. It was a 50-50 game but we got the breaks,' said coach Will Doyle.

'The goal was a long distance strike and nobody got a touch on it so we were delighted it went in. We do look to make sure deliveries like that are at least on target so we're very pleased that's what happened for us.

'Mary Rose Kelly made some good saves. All across our back four were excellent and there were a lot of big performances.

Wexford Youths: Kelly, Gleeson, Kennedy, Rossiter, Sinnott, Murphy (Fahy, 62), Hansberry, Frawley (Wall, 83), Douglas, O'Riordan (Cassin, 78), Breen.

Wexford Youths 0, Medyk Konin 6: Wexford Youths suffered a major setback in their bid to reach the round of 32 by losing 6-0 to Medyk Konin on Thursday.

An early goal from Katarzyna Daleszczyk knocked the Continental Tyres Women's National League champions off guard and even though they played extremely well in patches they were unable to dominate in the searing afternoon heat.

The home team piled on the pressure and Aleksandra Sikora added a second goal on 18 minutes to give them a 2-0 half-time lead. Wexford had brought on captain Kylie Murphy by that stage.

Medyk Konin raised the tempo in the second period and fired in four more goals, with Daleszczyk netting a second while Patricia Balcerzak (two) and Agata Tarczynska were also on target.

Goalkeeper Mary Rose Kelly pulled off a number of superb saves and the effort of the Wexford players to keep battling was admirable considering the draining heat and the quality of their opponents.

Wexford Youths: Kelly, Sinnott, Gleeson, Kennedy, Rossiter, Fahy, Hansberry, Delahunty (Douglas, 60), Breen (Murphy, 39), Frawley, O'Riordan (Cassin, 78).

'It was a top class side we played,' Will Doyle said. 'We had a big chat about it afterwards and the feedback we got from Konin was that they were surprised that we kept going and didn't drop off and defend.

'They usually play teams that just keep dropping off so they admired our attitude but we kept attacking and they picked us off on the break.

'We want to restore pride in our last group game at the very least and go out to get a victory. We want to guarantee ourselves second spot.'

Wexford Youths 5, Cardiff Met 1: Wexford Youths ended their group in second spot after an impressive 5-1 victory over Welsh champions Cardiff Met in Poland on Sunday. With Medyk Konin beating Lithuanian top seeds Gintra 4-0 in the other fixture, it meant the host club won the group.

Ireland international Carol Breen was the star of the show with four goals, and she got Will Doyle's side off to a flyer when she turned the ball home in the third minute.

Breen then made it 2-0 in the sixth minute after Cardiff Met 'keeper Sara Moreira saved Claire O'Riordan's initial effort.

Becky Cassin extended that lead on the half-hour before Breen completed an impressive hat-trick three minutes before the break.

The Welsh side's captain, Emily Allen, pulled one back on the hour but Breen wrapped up the scoring in the 80th minute to finish off an excellent week for the Continental Tyres Women's National League champions.

'We finished on a high. The first-half was a decent performance but in the second-half we let it go a little as we knew the other score so it was in Konin's hands,' said Will Doyle.

'I was delighted to get two wins, I wouldn't have changed much of what we did against Konin. We were just against a very good side in testing conditions and we fell short in that one.

'Carol was fantastic all week. She had a point to prove and she made it. It was a brilliant individual performance to score four times in UEFA Champions League game.

'I couldn't ask much more from the girls, the heat was a massive issue. We tried to rotate players and we're delighted to go home with the two wins. I was pleased to get as many players as we could onto the pitch and experience this level of the game.

'We have to switch on for the league campaign now and we want to retain that title and have another opportunity to play at this level next year.'

Wexford Youths: Kelly, Gleeson, Fahy, Murphy, Cassin, Kennedy (Hutchinson, 46), O'Riordan (Webb, 46), Breen, Rossiter, Sinnott, Douglas (Frawley, 79).

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