Youths enter break on a low
Bohemians boss locals in last game for three weeks
Wexford Youths headed into the three-week mid-season break on a losing note after conceding the only goal to Bohemians in the 34th minute before a decent crowd basking in the fine weather at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday.
Wexford Youths 0 Bohemians 1
Euro fever is about to grip the nation, but no doubt manager Shane Keegan and his players will have more pressing matters on their minds as they take stock after the first 15 games of this inaugural campaign in the top flight.
Attaining some form of consistency from game to game is surely one of the key objectives, with Youths positioned third from bottom above Bray Wanderers and Longford Town after a sequence of three wins, three draws and nine defeats.
The performance in Oriel Park just five evenings earlier had been one of the best so far, albeit without having anything to show for it in terms of points on the board.
However, this was a disappointing display on the whole, with Bohs looking pretty comfortable for the most part despite managing just one goal, which came after a defensive lapse.
Centre-half Gary Delaney seemed to stumble forward into the ball as he attempted a clearance so, rather than pumping it upfield, it skewed sideways off his boot into a central position where Keith Buckley was lurking.
He immediately slipped a neat pass through for the impressive Ismahil Akinade, one of the most promising young strikers in the league, and the tall centre-forward calmly beat Graham Doyle with a low shot to the corner of the net.
The action had started 15 minutes behind schedule, with Bohs' southbound journey delayed as an accident slowed traffic from their Dublin base.
And there was a little bit of unexpected drama also during the first quarter when referee Ben Connolly pulled up with an injury to his right leg. Youths physio Nigel Fitzharris came to his aid but the Dubliner was unable to continue, with a delay of almost five minutes ensuing before fourth official Andrew Mullally took charge of the whistle.
Youths made two changes from the side which battled so valiantly in Dundalk, with Gary Delaney replacing his unrelated namesake, Ryan, in the heart of the defence, while Danny Furlong completed his return from injury after a late cameo in Oriel Park, coming in for Shane Dunne.
The start was promising, as less than three minutes had elapsed when a trademark long throw from the left by Craig McCabe was hooked over the bar by Chris Kenny, selected as the supporters' player of the month for April.
Bohs threatened for the first time in the fifth minute when Eric Molloy's attempted pass to Jonny Bonner in midfield didn't work out. In a flash Keith Buckley had played in Ismahil Akinade whose effort was just over the bar.
Aidan Friel and Gary Delaney dealt with threatening crosses before an Akinade shot struck Kurtis Byrne who had veered into an offside position at any rate.
Bohs may have been without left winger Ayman Ben Mohammad, one of the top talents in the league, who was called up for international duty with Tunisia, but they were still on a high following a 5-1 Dublin derby thumping of St. Patrick's Athletic on the previous Sunday.
Gary Delaney headed a Paul Murphy free-kick wide in the 13th minute during a bright spell when a move featuring Andy Mulligan and Danny Furlong was defended before the latter almost played Murphy in.
Referee Connolly came a cropper in the 16th minute, and this disrupted the flow along with a later injury to Stephen Last's right shoulder after a heavy fall in the opposition box which ultimately forced him out of the action just before the break.
Akinade came close again in the 22nd minute following a Kurtis Byrne pass, with his shot parried by Graham Doyle before Aidan Friel completed the clearance.
Keith Buckley was booked for a challenge on Andy Mulligan, with a cross from the latter cleared after Jonny Bonner's initial free-kick was headed on by Paul Murphy before a defender dealt with the danger.
Eric Molloy got his head to the first Bohs corner in the 31st minute, and their second setpiece shortly afterwards nearly opened their account.
Kurtis Byrne floated the ball in from the right, with Ismahil Akinade getting his head to it initially before Keith Buckley held it up in the box and played a pass to the right for Mark Quigley to blaze over.
It was a portent of things to come though, as less than two minutes later that slip by Gary Delaney was punished to the full as Akinade registered the decisive goal. If Youths have learned one general lesson thus far, it's that errors are punished a lot quicker in the Premier Division.
Ryan Delaney came in for the injured Stephen Last in the 43rd minute, with the sole Youths corner of the half won by Andy Mulligan but over-hit by Paul Murphy from the left.
Bohs could have doubled their lead from a superb long-range pass from right to left by Keith Buckley, but Graham Doyle was equal to the task when Kurtis Byrne hammered his shot away.
Weak efforts by Derek Pender and Mark Quigley were easily saved before Paul Murphy shot wide from a long-range attempt at the other end, while a third Bohs corner was cleared and Byrne fired well wide from a snapshot before the six extra minutes concluded.
Graham Doyle was busy again less than two minutes into the new half when the ball sat up inviting a shot after Keith Buckley picked out Mark Quigley. It was a good effort and the netminder turned it around the post for the first of two quick and thankfully fruitless corners.
Doyle had to advance smartly to save from Buckley after a Kurtis Byrne through ball, with Ismahil Akinade firing over from the rebound.
A Paul Murphy free-kick didn't find anybody in the box before good work down the left by Aidan Friel and Andy Mulligan forced a corner, only for Murphy to send it wide at the far post.
A change of tactics saw Chris Kenny moving forward to play closest to Danny Furlong while Murphy drifted out to direct operations from midfield, in the hope that his precision passing would unlock the strong Bohs defence. And while he featured a lot on the ball, Youths still struggled to create any decent chances.
Jonny Bonner shot over in the 69th minute after a short Craig McCabe throw when everyone expected the right-back to peg it into the box, and a second attempt by the Donegal man also cleared the bar before Mark Quigley's crude challenge on the play-maker earned a yellow card.
Roberto Lopes was next to enter the notebook for a foul on Aidan Friel, while new arrival Shane Dunne earned a corner taken by Bonner but cleared to safety.
A Paul Murphy cross was dealt with by the defence, and his head got on the end of the best Youths chance of a leveller 80 seconds into the four extra minutes announced.
A McCabe throw was added to with headers by Gary Delaney and Chris Kenny before Murphy's last touch in the air was comfortably saved by Dean Delany.
Murphy collected a late yellow card while Kurtis Byrne fired a shot wide before the action ended with a second successive Bohs win which leaves them five points ahead of their hosts on the table.
The action will resume for Youths with a long trip north to face Derry City on Friday, June 24, and on the following Tuesday they will lock horns with Bohs again when the sides meet in the Leinster Senior Cup final in Dalymount Park.
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle (capt.); Craig McCabe, Gary Delaney, Stephen Last, Aidan Friel; Eric Molloy, Chris Kenny, Jonny Bonner, Andy Mulligan; Paul Murphy, Danny Furlong. Subs. - Ryan Delaney for Last, inj. (43), Shane Dunne for Mulligan (78), Danny Ledwith for Friel (90), also John Peare, Conor O'Keeffe, Conor Whittle, Matt Connor.
Bohemians: Dean Delany; Dylan Hayes, David Mulcahy, Dan Byrne, Derek Pender (capt.); Keith Buckley, Roberto Lopes, Eoin Wearen, Kurtis Byrne; Mark Quigley, Ismahil Akinade. Subs. - Lorcan Fitzgerald for Hayes, inj. (69), James Kavanagh for Quigley, inj. (87), also Derek Prendergast, Stephen Best, Jason Caffrey, Paul Rooney, Lee Stacey.
Referee: Ben Connolly (Dublin), replaced by Andrew Mullally (Waterford) in the 21st minute.