WEXFORD YOUTHS WATERFORD UNITED
Elmes 4, B. Nolan, Keenan DEADLY TOM Elmes hit four as rampant Wexford Youths pulled off one of their finest victories as they totally destroyed neighbours Waterford United in this opening Airtricity League Division 1 game played at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday night last.
Played in front of an attendance of 571, Wexford Youths even took their own supporters by surprise such was the excellence of their display. But for Waterford United it was their heaviest-ever league defeat and on Suirside they must have been left wondering about the type of season facing the club, as they were totally outplayed throughout the 90 minutes.
It certainly was a vintage performance from this new-look Wexford Youths side who gave their new manager, Shane Keegan, the ideal start to his career at this level. His troops not only did enough to power their way past the Blues, but they also served up a quality of football that one had not seen from the home side since their inception. Perhaps the closest they came to this display was in knocking Derry City out of the Cup last season.
The hosts will be mighty pleased to sit top of the table on goal difference following the opening round of games. This is in stark contrast to last season when they hovered around the bottom three for the entire season. Now they must take this form to Salthill this weekend where a victory would give them their best-ever start to a league campaign.
During the opening minutes it was Waterford who applied the pressure, forcing a corner. Gary Dempsey's kick floated across goal before being cleared to safety. In the eighth minute, Aidan Keenan gave first indication of his pace down the left wing as he moved past his marker before shooting, with his attempt being well held by 'keeper Robbie Hughes, deputising for the suspended Pakie Holden.
It did not take long for Wexford Youths to begin to exert themselves, with Tom Elmes heading a Shane Nolan cross back across goal, but a defender got back to clear the danger before a home attacker could capitalise.
As the game progressed the influence of Wexford Youths was becoming more evident. They took a deserved lead after 15 minutes when Elmes got on the end of a Keenan cross to knock the ball across the line with 'keeper Hughes totally out position, giving the home side a deserved 1-0 lead.
While Shane Nolan was proving dominant in midfield along with Craig Wall, there was still little indication of what was to follow. After 17 minutes Paul Carey had a shot on the Wexford goal blocked by centre-back Jamie Carr, before the ball was hooked away to safety, while nine minutes later home 'keeper Graham Doyle saved well from former Wexford Youths player, Darragh Walshe.
But it was the hosts who regained control, increasing their lead in the 32nd minute when Danny Furlong powered in a free-kick which 'keeper Hughes dropped and Brian Nolan forced home, making it 2-0.
It was only to get better for the home side as three minutes before the break Elmes powered home a low shot from 14 metres, giving them a confidenceboosting 3-0 interval lead.
For Waterford United their gameplan was thrown into further disarray when they had left full-back John Frost sent off on 44 minutes. Whatever chances their ten men had of getting back into the game evaporated within two minutes of the re-start. Shane Nolan sent over a cross that 'keeper Hughes only succeeded in knocking into the air, leaving the lurking Elmes an easy task of heading home from close range to make it 4-0.
The home side's back four were dominant as they snuffed out the visitors' front players. With the side attacking at pace, and spreading their passes to the wings, they simply tore the visitors' midfield and back four to shreds.
It was no surprise when they increased their lead in the 78th minute with Keenan, who had shown a tremendous appetite throughout, getting a deserved goal with a superb left-footed low shot to the corner of the net, making it 5-0.
But it was to be Tom Elmes' night as six minutes from the end he struck for his fourth goal when driving a great left-footed shot across the 'keeper into the opposite corner of the net, leaving his side with a massive 6-0 victory.
So, it's top marks for Wexford Youths from their opening game, but now they must take this form to Salthill and hopefully maintain their winning start to the campaign.
Graham Doyle, Brian Nolan, Jamie Carr, C.J. Browne, James Dermody, Craig Wall, Shane Nolan, Paul Malone, Aidan Keenan, Tom Elmes, Danny Furlong. SUBS: Dean Broaders for S. Nolan (69); Shane Clarke for B. Nolan (75); Thomas Croke for Wall (83).
Robbie Hughes, Peter White, Craig Burns, Seamus Long, John Frost, Gary Dempsey, Peter Higgins, Paul Carey, Jack Doherty, Seán Maguire, Darragh Walshe. SUBS: Willie John Kiely for Walshe (HT); Dylan Mernagh for Burns (52); Paul Phelan for Doherty (78). VENUE: Ferrycarrig Park. REFEREE: Kevin O'regan (Kerry).