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Monday 14 October 2019

Wexford hit back for a point

SSE Airtricity First Division: Wexford F.C. 2 Cobh Ramblers 2

Wexford’s Ryan Nolan kick-starts an attack before Matt Lamb of Cobh Ramblers can challenge
Wexford’s Ryan Nolan kick-starts an attack before Matt Lamb of Cobh Ramblers can challenge

Alan Aherne

Given that they trailed twice, credit is due to Wexford F.C. for bouncing back and earning a well-deserved point from this quite entertaining SSE Airtricity First Division clash with Cobh Ramblers in Ferrycarrig Park on Friday.

Certainly, it was a marked improvement from the third game of the season in early March when a disastrous trip to St. Colman's Park on a miserable Saturday night ended in a 6-1 hammering.

Jack Doherty scored the consolation goal from the penalty spot on that occasion, and the only man to have started all twelve league games thus far was also centrally involved in this re-match as Wexford produced several bright spells before a crowd of 252.

He formed one-third of an exciting attacking combination with centre-forward Danny Furlong plus left winger Emmet Nugent, with the trio responsible for eleven of the twelve goals scored in the campaign thus far.

Doherty pounced for his fifth in the 17th minute to quickly respond to Cobh's opener, while Furlong joined Nugent on three towards the end of the third quarter as Wexford dug deep in search of a second equaliser.

Paddy Cahill, Darragh O'Connor and Nugent came into the team for Owen McCormack, Lee Costello and Nika Arevadze respectively, although the latter's first touch after his introduction was worth its weight in gold as it led to Furlong's well-taken goal.

Neither side could capitalise on early corners, two for Cobh and one for the home team, while wing-back Kevin Taylor blazed high and wide after O'Connor missed a clearing header in the fourth minute.

Wexford were within a whisker of opening the scoring in the 13th minute, after Ian Turner sold his goalkeeper short with a poor back pass.

Danny Furlong was alert to the possibilities and nicked the ball away from Paul Hunt, but centre-half Ben O'Riordan got back to clear his effort off the line.

Emmet Nugent shot wide after a one-two with Jack Doherty, but the home side fell behind in the 15th minute after a cut-back from the byline by David Hurley to the left of the clubhouse end goal found Denzil Fernandes.

He veered away from an attempted tackle before unleashing a shot that ended in the net, with defender Darragh O'Connor making contact with the ball en route.

However, the lead only lasted 80 seconds, as Danny Doyle played a neat pass into the path of Jack Doherty who calmly drove home his fifth goal of the season, and third from open play after two initial successful spot-kicks.

Cian Leonard fired a free over the bar after Kevin Taylor was fouled on the edge of the Wexford box, while Seán Callan's header from a Doherty corner at the other end went wide.

Wexford should have taken the lead in the 26th minute when a brilliant pass by Doherty from inside his own half cut the Cobh defence wide open and left Emmet Nugent racing into open ground.

Netminder and captain Paul Hunt was equal to his task though, using his legs to keep the shot out at the expense of a corner.

That went long from Doherty and met the head of Darragh O'Connor who directed it back across goal. Taylor cleared from close to his own line into the path of right-back Paddy Cahill, but he volleyed wide.

The chances continued, but this time for Cobh after Denzil Fernandes sent in a cross and Corey Chambers fisted it under pressure from Cian Leonard into the path of Stephen Kenny who was annoyed with himself for firing over the bar.

However, he more than made amends with a sublime finish to restore Ramblers' lead in the 38th minute.

Wexford should have cleared their lines but Darragh O'Connor's wayward kick was intercepted, and the ball eventually found Kenny to the right of the posts outside the box.

He worked some space on to his favoured left side and curled a sublime shot into the far corner of the net, although for some bizarre reason the Twitter accounts of the two participating clubs credited Fernandes - who wasn't anywhere near the ball - with the goal.

The half ended with Seán Callan making a vital tackle to deny Ian Turner a potential goal chance, and it resumed with Wexford unable to capitalise on the fifth of the seven corners they earned overall (Ramblers had four).

Chambers safely held a long-range Matt Lamb shot at the second attempt, while a booking for Stephen Kenny after a rash challenge on Nugent was followed by a lucky escape for Cobh.

Doherty's free-kick led to a scramble and another clearance off the line after Seán Callan had got the last Wexford touch.

Fernandes shot across goal and wide on a break after a long Lamb pass, while a fine effort from distance by Thomas Croke was tipped over for a corner that led to a Chris Kenny shot being blocked and cleared.

David Hurley was yellow-carded as the pressure mounted on Cobh in a game that always looked like it would yield at least one more goal, and it took an inspired substitution to provide it.

Nika Arevadze was only on the field for 45 seconds when he featured prominently in a move down the middle, taking a Thomas Croke pass and rolling it first-time into the path of Danny Furlong who thumped it to the net in the 65th minute.

It was now anyone's game, with Jack Doherty causing some bother for Corey Chambers from a wild backpass before Emmet Nugent over-hit a cross for Furlong after good play from substitute Lee Costello and Doherty.

Chambers saved an effort from substitute Jaze Kabia before Nugent volleyed high and over, while a dangerous ball into the box from Ryan Nolan led to a fruitless corner.

A Fernandes header, after Stephen Kenny hung a cross into his path, lacked the power to trouble Chambers, while strong defending by Chris Kenny put paid to a couple of half-chances for Ramblers before the finish.

The visitors did win a free-kick in added time that was floated in from the right by Stephen Kenny, but David Hurley headed over and the sides had to be content with a share of the spoils.

Next up for Wexford is another home clash on Friday at 7.45 p.m., with Shelbourne visiting for the first time this season after winning 3-0 when the teams met in Tolka Park in March. They will then travel to Bray on May 24.

Wexford F.C.: Corey Chambers; Paddy Cahill, Seán Callan, Chris Kenny (capt.), Darragh O'Connor; Danny Doyle, Ryan Nolan, Thomas Croke, Emmet Nugent; Jack Doherty, Danny Furlong. Subs. - Nika Arevadze for Doyle (65), Lee Costello for O'Connor (66), also Jason McGuire, Andrew Farrell, Ciarán Paige.

Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt (capt.); Ben O'Riordan, Charlie Lyons, James McSweeney; Kevin Taylor, Matt Lamb, Ian Turner, Denzil Fernandes, David Hurley; Stephen Kenny; Cian Leonard. Subs. - Jaze Kabia for Turner (75), Nathan West for Fernandes (90+1), Stephen O'Leary for Leonard (90+1), also Adam Mylod, Shane O'Connor, Stephen Christopher, Michael O'Rourke.

Referee: Alan Patchell (Dublin).

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