Wexford held at the death
Wexford F.C. 2 Cobh Ramblers 2
Wexford were denied a crucial victory by a stoppage time header in the SSE Airtricity League Under-17 Southern Elite Division in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday.
Despite being second best for long periods, it looked as if Wexford had stemmed Cobh's tide until Ross Slevin's corner was heart-breakingly headed home by striker Beineon O'Brien-Whitmarsh.
Wexford were certainly economical in the first-half, nonchalantly tucking away both of their only real opportunities to propel them into a scarcely-deserved 2-0 lead.
The opener came early in the eleventh minute, after a quiet start from both teams. Captain Liam Berry, fed by Adham Masood, smashed high past the Cobh 'keeper.
The second was more noticeably against the run of play. Liam Berry's hard work was rewarded after a mix-up between goalkeeper Arthur Nganou and defender Adam Crowley.
Their failure to clear allowed the striker to seize possession and lay back to Brandon Deady, who gratefully tucked the ball into an empty net.
Despite the scoreline, Wexford weren't firing on all cylinders. Cobh's main threat was consistently coming from set-pieces which the Slaneysiders appeared unable to deal with.
Nathan O'Donnell and Jack Ford both spurned chances, while 'keeper Colum Feeney saved bravely from Jaze Kabia.
However, Cobh's dominance was destined to tell eventually and when Crowley's immaculate crossfield ball was raced onto and finished coolly by O'Brien, the half-time team talk must have changed drastically for both managers.
Now spurred on by their goal on the cusp of the break, the Cork side began the second-half even better than they finished the first.
They should have equalised when a rare Feeney error left the netminder stranded outside his penalty area, but Kabia was denied a certain goal by the offside flag.
They had the ball in the net again on the hour mark, O'Brien-Whitmarsh nodding Jack Ford's cross home, only to be denied by the linesman for the second time.
Feeney would be called into further action, saving Luke Quinn's effort with his feet before tipping Nathan O'Donnell's header out of the top right from the resulting corner.
The deserved breakthrough did eventually come in the first minute of stoppage time.
Another set-piece saw Ross Slevin's corner gifting O'Brien with a free header, and the talisman glanced neatly into the top left corner of Feeney's goal.
Loic Nguefang almost added insult to injury in the 98th minute. With Wexford still licking their wounds, his effort from distance agonisingly cannoned back off the post seconds before Jimmy O'Neill's whistle sounded for the final time.
While a win would have boosted Wexford above their opponents, a point is certainly not the end of the world.
In the division where the unbeaten Shamrock Rovers and Waterford appear to be running away with the top two positions, the remaining teams (excluding Limerick who are out of touch) will be fighting it out for third and fourth places, which would see the successful teams advance to the national quarter-final.
This will ensure an interesting few weeks ahead.
Wexford: Colum Feeney; Jack Gallagher, Cian Foley, Reece Murphy, Jason Daly; Craig O'Reilly, Caellum Travers-Devlin, Adham Masood, Ciarán Paige, Brandon Deady; Liam Berry (capt.). Subs. - Stephen Kearns for Deady (63), Oscar Smith for Travers-Devlin, inj. (69), also Patrick Barron, Kyle Kennedy, Nathan O'Connor, Conor Signorelu.
Cobh Ramblers: Arthur Nganou; Jack Turner, Adam Crowley, Nathan O'Donnell; Kyle Murphy, Joe Meaney, Jack Ford, Connor O'Leary (capt.); Conor Drinan, Beineon O'Brien-Whitmarsh, Jaze Kabia. Subs. - Conor Walsh for O'Leary (46), Ross Slevin for Meaney (59), Cameron Harlson for Drinan (67), Luke Quinn for Murphy (72), Loic Nguefang for Kabia (72), also David Harrington, Eoin O'Donovan.
Referee: Jimmy O'Neill (Wexford).