Sunday 21 January 2018

Celtic scrape past the Ramblers after penalties

BRENDAN FURLONG At Sinnottstown Lane

WITH A meagre return from the penalty shootout, it took a final effort from substitute Donal O' Connor to eventually push Wexford Celtic through to the next round over a battling Corach Ramblers side in this Neil O' Sullivan Cup first round clash at Sinnottstown Lane on Sunday last.

There were more negatives than positives to take from this game. The home side should have been out of sight at the end of 90 minutes, while Corach Ramblers flattered to deceive, only bringing the game into extra-time with an equalising goal one minute into additional time.

And when Corach equalised at such a late stage one would have expected them to move on, but they made little or no impression through the 20 minutes of extra-time. Meanwhile, Wexford Celtic continued to waste possession and chances in front of goal, relying on the penalty shoot-out to put themselves into the next round draw.

There was little to suggest that either side had the potential even to put away a penalty kick, as both failed to break the deadlock with deplorable efforts from their opening two efforts. Corach eventually gave themselves the advantage on the third kick, while Celtic saw their third attempt blazed over the bar.

Corach at their fourth attempt struck over the top before Celtic made it 1-1, while the visitors had their fifth attempt saved, before substitute O'connor knocked home his side's winning effort.

The opening 45 minutes saw Wexford Celtic create all the chances but their finishing in front of goal was weak, with Billy Martin having an effort cleared off the line when he should have scored from five metres, while the same player brought a fine 25th-minute save out of 'keeper Darren Carthy.

With Corach Ramblers making little impression up front, the Celtic misses continued with both Philip Cullen and Martin failing to find the target, leaving it 0-0 at the interval.

The pattern of the game was to continue through the second period, with Cullen forcing a fine 58th-minute save out of Carthy, while the same man played a great ball across the face of the goal, leaving David Dunbar with a simple finish, but amazingly he pulled the ball back across the goal and wide.

All Corach had to offer was a Niall Harney free kick that went over the top, before Celtic eventually broke through after 71 minutes when their most impressive player, Philip Cullen, drilled home a superb dipping shot from 25 metres to make it 1-0.

With Celtic compact and hard-working, Corach were making no impression up front. Still, the misses were to continue, with Tom Kelly and Cullen wasting great chances to clinch the tie, while Billy Martin also failed to find the target from inside the area.

Corach Ramblers in one last desperate attack forced a 91st-minute corner. Niall Harney floated over the kick, with Gavin Sinnott rising unhindered to power down a header that eventually found its way through a crowded goalmouth, ending in the bottom right-hand corner of the net and bringing the game to extra-time.

Neither side created a worthwhile chance through the two periods of extra-time, leaving the game to be decided by the dreaded penalty shoot-out. The poor standard of penalty-taking matched what had gone on for the previous 110 minutes, as both sides still struggled to settle the tie.

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