Women move into second spot with scintillating show
WEXFORD YOUTH Women produced a scintillating display on Saturday last in Ferycarrig Park to overcome the challenge of an in-form Castlebar Celtic and move into second place in the Women's National League.
Playing their first match at home under lights, the Wexford girls started well and, despite the best efforts of the Mayo visitors, they kept control of the game throughout the majority of the 90 minutes. Maria Delahunty went close early on, bringing a good save from the visitors' 'keeper Marian Murray, and minutes later, Ciara Rossiter crossed and Rianna Jarrett saw her header just clear the crossbar.
With experienced defender Jessica Gleeson missing through injury, Republic of Ireland Under-17 international Lauren Dwyer was given her debut at centre-back and, despite her young years, she looked very comfortable and is definitely a bright prospect for the future.
The breakthrough came on 22 minutes when Rianna Jarrett moved down the left wing, cut in along the byline and slotted the ball to Cherelle Khassal who made no mistake with her low shot to the corner of the net.
The home side never allowed Castlebar to settle into a rhythm and reduced their attacks to long-range efforts which were comfortably dealt with by 'keeper Mary Rose Kelly and her defence. Linda Douglas and Ciara Rossiter were causing the visitors all sorts of problems on either wing, with Edel Kennedy and Maria Delahunty looking in control in midfield while Rianna Jarrett and Cherelle Khassal always looked dangerous when they got the ball up front.
The defence of Clare Conlon, Lucy Sherwin, Catherine Power and the youthful Lauren Dwyer dealt comfortably with everything that Castlebar could throw at them.
Despite this level of possession, Castlebar should have been back level on 37 minutes when Shauna Jackson broke through but skewed her shot wide of the post with no one to beat but the 'keeper.
Wexford's dominance of the first-half paid off with two minutes to go to half-time when Khassal turned provider and crossed the ball for Jarrett to head to the net for her fourth goal of the season.
The second-half saw the game settle into a battle of midfields as Wexford comfortably held on to their two-goal cushion despite Emma Mullin coming more into the game and creating some opportunities, but she could not find the net. With 20minutes remaining, Ciara Rossiter had the ball in the net but was deemed offside, and moments later Rianna Jarrett saw her shot hit the underside of the crossbar and bounce out.
After 90 minutes of probably the best soccer played by the team this season, referee Nicky Boland sounded the final whistle and, with Raheny losing to Peamount, Wexford leapfrogged the north Dublin side into second place
On a night that the whole team played well, Linda Douglas produced one of her best performances of the season with Cherelle Khassal and a rejuvenated Rianna Jarrett both excelling also. Emma Mullin always looked dangerous for Castlebar with Jenny Byrne and Shaunagh Jackson also impressing.
Wexford Youth Women: Mary Rose Kelly, Clare Conlon, Lucy Sherwin, Catherine Power, Lauren Dwyer, Edel Kennedy, Maria Delahunty, Linda Douglas, Ciara Rossiter, Cherelle Khassal, Rianna Jarrett. SUBS: Rachel Hutchinson, Katie White, Laura Heffernan, Amy Walsh, Ashling Frawley, Aimee Jordan, Tamara Furlong.
Castlebar Celtic: Marian Murray, Shauna Fox, Theresa Fahy, Katie Walsh, Jenny Byrne, Patricia Moran, Stacey Muldowney, Lisa Casserly, Emma Mullin, Nicola Fawley, Shaunagh Jackson. SUBS: Ashling Hughes, Laura Carroll, Niamh Kerins, Sara McGrough, Aoife Gibbons.
Referee: Nicky Boland. Assistants: Jimmy O'Neill and Jimmy Kelly. Attendance: 185.