Sunday 15 December 2019

Wexford FC hit self-destruct button in first home clash of season

Soccer SSE Airtricity First Division Series 2: Wexford FC 0 Galway United 4

Jack Doherty tussling with Galway United’s Christopher Horgan
Jack Doherty tussling with Galway United’s Christopher Horgan

Attracting new faces through the Ferrycarrig Park turnstiles has always been a problem, and there was certainly nothing to encourage further visits from any first-timer who might have ventured out for this Airtricity League First Division mis-match in miserable conditions on Friday.

While there was absolutely nothing Wexford F.C. could have done about the howling wind and driving rain, they certainly didn't help their cause on the field with a shambolic defensive display that handed Galway United a comfortable 4-0 victory to lighten their long journey home.

It hasn't been a good start for new manager Brian O'Sullivan, with his team already rooted to the bottom of the table after shipping four goals per game.

And while there was a 'what if' attached to the 4-2 loss away to Athlone Town seven days earlier after Danny Furlong's questionable early dismissal, there was no sign of a similar comfort blanket this time around as Wexford were entirely the authors of their own misfortune.

They did finish with ten men again and, while there could be no complaints this time around, the dismissal didn't have a big say in the outcome as the home side were already trailing 3-0 at the time, with absolutely no chance of making a comeback.

Half-time substitute Danny Doyle was booked for the first time in the 47th minute for a poor tackle, after Wexford felt aggrieved that an initial bad challenge on Paddy Cahill went unpunished.

Doyle's reaction sparked an outbreak of pushing and shoving that also resulted in yellows for Thomas Croke and Marc Ludden, but there was no justification for his dangerous lunge at Mark Hannon just twelve minutes later that led to his dismissal.

There may have been an element of frustration attached, because Wexford had conceded a third goal a short time beforehand and were playing like they had never worked on any defensive formations on the training pitch.

Indeed, that was the most frustrating aspect of this heavy home defeat, because none of the four Galway goals arose from scintillating attacking play on their own part.

Instead, they exposed the sloppy and naive approach close to Wexford's own goal that will surely lead to personnel changes in the back four for the visit to Cobh Ramblers - the only other team in the division yet to pick up a point - for series three on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Galway opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when a back pass by right-back Thomas Croke led to a hurried attempted clearance into the night sky by new netminder Joseph Walshe, and it was punished to the full by 17-year-old Donal Higgins after a knockdown from a colleague when he moved across the area before sending a shot into the far corner of the net.

They doubled their account five and a half minutes later, even though Colin Kelly's corner from the right was too long to initially trouble the defence.

However, an attempted clearance by captain Owen McCormack was blocked by first goalscorer Higgins, leaving Conor Barry to turn a low shot into the net.

Number three arrived in the 62nd minute, after Wexford didn't deal with a throw-in from the left.

The wily Vinny Faherty held the ball up with his back to goal in the box before rolling it to midfielder Maurice Nugent who slotted it expertly beyond Walshe.

And to add insult to injury, a fourth was added in the 83rd minute, just 20 seconds after Wexford's Jack Doherty got to the byline to the left of goal but didn't trouble replacement Galway netminder Andreas Werner, who was making his club debut after an earlier injury to Kevin Horgan.

The substitute's quick release started a move down the left that ended in calamity for Wexford when an outstretched boot only succeeded in sending the ball backwards into the path of a grateful Colin Kelly who had the easiest of tasks in finding the net from close range.

While Joseph Walshe conceded four goals, that figure could have been doubled without some of his crucial saves.

Indeed, he was called upon twice inside 70 seconds, first to deny Kelly at the expense of a corner, and then to keep out his second effort after the flag kick with an even better stop.

Wexford's Jack Doherty forced a corner in the 15th minute, but his delivery from the left was met first-time by Paddy Cahill and drilled wide at the near post.

Maurice Nugent and Cahill went on to miss the target from shots at either end, but Wexford created little or nothing for the rest of the half after a dangerous low cross by Thomas Croke was cleared in the 21st minute.

They did have a half-chance when Doherty chased a long ball in the lead-up to the break, but Galway debutant Cian Murphy matched him for pace and made a vital saving tackle.

The westerners could afford to relax somewhat after those two goals, although they were no doubt mindful too of the fact that they had squandered a similar advantage in a 3-2 home loss to Shelbourne seven nights earlier.

They led the corner count 6-1 at half-time as well as being 2-0 ahead on the scoreboard, and their best chance to make it three arrived in the one extra minute played when Seán Callan's clearance prevented Conor Barry from getting on the end of a Colin Kelly cross.

Barry sprayed a super through ball into the path of Kelly just over three minutes into the second-half, but he pulled his shot across goal to the right and wide.

Galway netminder Kevin Horgan was injured after an accidental clash with Callan as he got his fist to a Jack Doherty corner, the first of four earned by the home side after the break compared to five for their rivals.

League debutant Emmanuel Lawal had switched from right wing to left, with Emmet Nugent drifting out to the former role and leaving Doherty as the sole man up top.

However, Wexford didn't create even one chance of note, whereas the leaders had ample opportunities and made the most of two of them.

Joseph Walshe had turned a Conor Barry shot over the bar in the 59th minute, and he denied him once more on their next decent attack before the third goal did arrive from Maurice Nugent.

Walshe seemed determined to ensure that Barry wouldn't add to his first-half finish, thwarting him once more prior to the visitors' fourth goal.

A late Galway breakaway should have been slotted home for number five, but the busy Walshe got a touch on Colin Kelly's effort to keep his net intact on this occasion.

While every new manager deserves a chance to bed in, there won't be much patience among the small Wexford following given the poor fare they have endured over the past two seasons.

The fact that the only team they were able to consistently get the better of, Athlone Town, have won two out of two won't be lost on them either, because their team needs to be moving up from their second-last standings of 2017 and 2018 rather than dropping down one notch.

On the basis of what has been seen so far, it looks like progress is going to be a very tall order, although by the same token a team shouldn't be judged on just its first two games.

Wexford FC: Joseph Walshe; Thomas Croke, Owen McCormack (capt.), Seán Callan, Lee Costello; Nika Arevadze, Paddy Cahill, Seán Kelly, Emmanuel Lawal; Emmet Nugent, Jack Doherty. Subs. - Danny Doyle for Arevadze (HT), Ryan Nolan for Callan (72), Liam McCartan for Lawal (83), also Corey Chambers, Darragh O'Connor, Torik Adegoke, Seán Roche.

Galway United: Kevin Horgan; Christopher Horgan, Cian Murphy, Stephen Walsh (capt.), Marc Ludden; Donal Higgins, Maurice Nugent, Conor Barry, Mark Hannon, Colin Kelly; Vinny Faherty. Subs. - Andreas Werner for K. Horgan, inj. (68), Joe Collins for Hannon (72), Conor Melody for Higgins (81), also Ronan Asgari, Wilson Waweru, Shane Doherty, Matthew Barrett.

Referee: Kevin O'Sullivan (Cork).

Wexford People

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