Dennehy aggrieved that another handball appeal for a Kerry penalty wasn’t given
Kerry FC manager Billy Dennehy said that despite seeing his team lose 2-1 away to Wexfcord Fc on Friday night, he was “very pleased with the reaction” he got from the players following on from their 9-1 hammering by Galway United the previous Friday.
Though Kerry went 2-0 down in Ferrycarrig Park on Friday before a late Leo Gaxha goal gave the visitors a small glimmer of hope, Dennehy was pleased with his his team performed, apart from the concession of a third minute goal that put them on the back foot.
“Obviously you’re looking for a reaction after the Galway game and we certainly got that over the ninety minutes but, again we probably gave ourselves a lot to do, conceding so early in the game, another set-piece that we conceded from. But the reaction from there was very good, especially as the game we won we grew into the game,” he said.
"Again, a big deciding moment in the game, we’ve a big call for handball, the (Wexford) player leans against the ball, he initiates the contact and it hits his arm and that’s not given. The momentum was really with us at that stage, but (penalty) wasn’t give so… we kept going, we did create one or two chances besides that but they go and score again off a second phase off another set-piece, which obviously gives us a mountain to climb late in the game.
"To be fair to the players, their reaction to it was very good, they were very positive, kept playing forward looking to create chances. Leo got a great finish, with a great ball from Ryan Kelliher when he came on and we were on the front foot after that, and were the team that went on and looked like we were going to score a second but unfortunately we ran out of time.
“And that’s another thing, the whistle was blown ten seconds before the full amount of injury time that was meant to be played. They’re small things and we’re just looking for a small bit of consistency throughout the decision making. Early on in the season a handball is a big moment in that game to potentially make it one-all.”
When Wexford FC took a third-minute lead it looked like an ominous sign for first-time visitors Kerry FC in this First Division tie played in persistent light rain on a sodden surface.
After shipping a 9-1 hammering on the road to table-toppers Galway United one week earlier, the last thing the newcomers needed was for their brittle confidence to be further eroded. And yet, to their credit, they matched Wexford step-for-step for the remainder of the game, and to some degree they could consider themselves unfortunate not to be turning the bus for home with at least one point in the bag.
That early goal was an excellent finish from one of Wexford’s new faces. Midfielder Darragh Levingston lofted a long-range free-kick towards the back post, and captain Ethan Boyle nodded it back across goal for Mark Hanratty to apply a clinical finish with a venomous left-footed volley.
His first goal in the club colours is one he will savour, but it didn’t lead to a similar-type collapse that Kerry endured on their previous outing.
Instead, they went toe-to-toe with their more experienced rivals before Wexford finally managed to give themselves some breathing space in the 77th minute.
Left-back James Crawford delivered a corner-kick from the right that was contested by the recently-introduced Danny Furlong before the ball broke into the path of Brandon McCann.
The central midfielder had put in a fine shift up to that point, and he supplied some icing for the cake in the form of a meaty drive through a sea of bodies that gave Kerry FC netminder Wayne Guthrie no chance.
Wexford should have been able to manage the game effectively from that point onwards, and a third successive clean sheet looked a realistic goal for netminder Noel ‘Charlie’ Heffernan. However, it didn’t come to pass, and the Rosslare lad will have good reason to be annoyed with his defenders after Kerry struck for a consolation goal that their general efforts deserved in the 88th minute.
Substitute Ryan Kelleher knocked the ball into the box from the left, and Leo Gaxha was left all alone to have a quick glance over his shoulder and deftly cushion a header into the far corner, well out of Heffernan’s reach.
Gaxha had been the most inventive Kerry player from the off, primarily on the left flank although he occupied the central attacking role for a brief spell before half-time, and also after Nathan Gleeson departed in the 74th minute.
With just that early Hanratty goal separating the teams at the interval, Kerry started the second-half with fire in their bellies and forced three early corners, with captain Matt Keane heading over from the first that was taken by Graham O’Reilly.
A handball plea didn’t impress referee Paul Norton, when Nathan Gleeson’s left-wing cross struck Ethan Boyle, while Rob Vasiu – a first-half replacement for the injured Andy Quaid – had a shot blocked for another corner after Gleeson did well on the byline.
The second Wexford goal arrived after Kevin Williams swung his boot at a Hanratty cross and almost turned the ball into his own net. The relief at seeing it clearing the crossbar didn’t last long, as McCann connected with the break from Crawford’s delivery to score his first goal in the purple jersey.
Gaxha’s goal set up a nervy finish for the hosts, and the last throw of the Kerry dice saw Gaxha swing his boot at a headed clearance by Hugh Douglas, but it was nowhere near the target and Wexford were finally able to relax.
Kerry will take heart from their recovery from that early blow, and they should be confident of doing well on Friday at home to an Athlone Town side that Wexford dismantled 3-0.
WEXFORD FC: Noel Heffernan; Jordon Tallon, Ethan Boyle, Hugh Douglas, James Crawford; Brandon McCann, Darragh Levingston; Reece Webb, Aaron Doran, Mark Hanratty; Aaron Dobbs. Subs: Jordan Adeyemo for Tallon (52), Corban Piper for Doran (65), Karl Chambers for Levingston (65), Danny Furlong for Dobbs (71).
KERRY FC: Wayne Guthrie; Kevin Williams, Shane Guthrie, Andy Quaid, Jonathan Hannafin; Samuel Aladesanusi, Matt Keane, Graham O’Reilly; Seán Kennedy, Nathan Gleeson, Leo Gaxha. Subs: Rob Vasiu for Quaid (inj, 43), Seán McGrath for Keane (69), Ronan Teahan for S Guthrie (69), Ryan Kelleher for Kennedy (74), Cian Brosnan for Gleeson (74)
Referee: Paul Norton (Dublin)