Thursday 23 November 2017

Youths hit back

Women put cup final loss behind them

Dean Goodison

Linda Douglas of Wexford Youths tries to get the ball past Galway defender Alina Cheatham
Linda Douglas of Wexford Youths tries to get the ball past Galway defender Alina Cheatham
Wexford Youths goalscorer Aoibhín Webb pressurising the Galway defence during Saturday's victory

Almost waif-like in nature, playing with an efficient daintiness that those around her often failed to feed off, Aoibhín Webb was a somewhat unlikely heroine as Wexford Youths kept their Continental Tyres Women's National League hopes alive in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday.

Wexford Youths 2 Galway W.F.C. 0

Twice the Carlow native provided the finishing touch to beat Tina Hughes, enough to see Wexford past Galway for the second time this season. Both goals were special in their own right; different, but picture perfect in their execution.

The first, coming in the 25th minute, was the product of some superb footwork. Picking up the ball inside the penalty area to the left of goal, Webb shifted it away from the last Galway defender and into space. The finish across goal to the corner was textbook.

After a string of missed chances by her team-mates, Webb's second, which came ten minutes from time, saw the attacker open her body on the edge of the area and slide a first-time, side-footed effort into the top right corner of Galway's goal from Aisling Frawley's square pass.

And that was job done for Gary Hunt's side after the meek performance at the Aviva six days earlier. The name of the game was to get the points in the bag, by whatever means, with a huge clash with Shelbourne on the horizon.

While it was also important to wash away the clammy nastiness of the cup final heading into the game, lessons still needed to be learned from the rout. Implementing a gameplan that can work going into next week's encounter was clearly a focus.

Wexford were a little more compact and a lot livelier. Galway looked to exploit the channels high up the pitch, much the way Shelbourne had, but didn't quite have the players to make it stick. Youths, to their credit, were a little more aggressive in midfield but will need to ramp it up another level again on Saturday in Dublin.

The westerners came to play, quickly settling into a fast tempo. They had a few moments, particularly down the right with Rachel Baynes, but the Wexford defence held strong. A sweeping Jess Gleeson ball left to Linda Douglas won the hosts a corner in the eighth minute.

There was mayhem from the resulting dead ball with Orlaith Conlon eventually forcing Hughes to save. Kylie Murphy, returning from suspension, fired wide from 25 yards out in the 17th minute but her side dodged a bullet when Galway had the ball in the net moments later.

Sophie Lenehan saved Sadhbh Doyle's initial effort before Lynsey McKey worked the ball back into the box for Doyle to finish. Luckily for the hosts, linesman Marc Kelly had his flag up as the ball had crossed the endline in the build-up. Four minutes later Webb fired Youths ahead.

Moments after Lenehan comfortably saved a McKey 25-yard free-kick, she decisively raced off her line to superbly cut out the supply before the Galway attacker could prosper. At the other end, Amy Walsh's corner pinballed around the box before Murphy fired wide in the final minute of the half.

Galway had one last chance before the interval but Lenehan was again up to the task, keeping out a fizzer from Baynes with the minimum of fuss to ensure her side went in at the break a goal to the good.

The visitors came out and pushed Wexford back after the break. The closest they came to an equaliser in that spell was when McKey's free-kick cannoned off Kiera Cormican's shin and flew wide of Lenehan's post.

Youths weathered the storm and began creating themselves. Much of their good work was coming from the right wing with Aisling Frawley terrorising Alina Cheatham with her pace and direct running.

Frawley crossed for Murphy to hook wide in the 53rd minute. The Youths captain then just missed a telling touch on Emma Hansberry's free-kick. More good play on the right found Claire O'Riordan on the edge of the area but she clipped the crossbar from 20 yards out.

A swinging volley flew wide from O'Riordan's boot in the 62nd minute before Amy Walsh fizzed a long-range effort that Hughes acrobatically saved. Galway had a rare, great chance to equalise 14 minutes from time when McKey's free fell to Doyle, but Lenehan saved the resulting shot with her feet.

Only a poor touch when in on Hughes stopped O'Riordan making it two after tireless work on the wing by Linda Douglas and Webb. Just a minute later Douglas, now on the right, whipped a perfect ball across the face of goal but O'Riordan glanced wide.

With the pressure mounting after Galway's gung-ho formation shift three minutes earlier, Youths wrapped up the game with Webb's second goal ten minutes from time.

O'Riordan saw an effort saved by Hughes in stoppage time while Nicola Sinnott headed wide from the resulting corner, but it mattered little in the grand scheme of things as Youths took the points.

With three games remaining and Wexford four points behind leaders Shelbourne, realistically only one result will suffice on Saturday evening. Chances for redemption don't often present themselves so soon after a crushing disappointment. This is that chance, the last chance.

If Youths can win in Dublin, and beat Cork and Peamount in their final two games, they will still need help to see off Shelbourne in the title race. Yet, with Peamount and UCD to follow for the north Dublin club, hopes are far from forlorn.

First things first, Wexford need to produce the goods in the capital on Saturday evening.

Wexford Youths: Sophie Lenehan; Nicola Sinnott, Jess Gleeson, Orlaith Conlon, Amy Walsh; Emma Hansberry, Kylie Murphy (capt.); Aisling Frawley, Aoibhín Webb, Linda Douglas; Claire O'Riordan. Subs. - Becky Cassin for Murphy (86), Rachel Hutchinson for Webb (88), also Tamara Furlong, Chelsee Snell, Leanne Tumelty, Sinéad Gaynor, Clare Conlon.

Galway W.F.C.: Tina Hughes; Aoife Walsh, Shauna Fox, Keira Cormican, Alina Cheatham; Chloe Mahoney; Rachel Baynes, Sadhbh Doyle, Jess Nolan, Lynsey McKey; Aislinn Meaney. Subs. - Lucy Hannon for Cheatham (77), Jessica Chambers for Baynes (88), also Louise Craven.

Referee: Jimmy O'Neill.





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