Lack of cutting edge evident as Youths Women lose out
BOTH THESE sides went into this Bus Eireann Women's National League game in Ferrycarrig Park on Sunday last knowing that a win would have a massive impact on how the rest of their respective seasons would pan out.
Played in front of the home side's smallest crowd to date (85), Wexford started the best and Cherelle Khassal brought a good save from Rovers 'keeper Sarah Devlin after just 15 seconds. Amy Devereux in the Wexford goal was called into action moments later when a miskick by Youths defender Jessica Gleeson rebounded off the post and Devereux forced Noelle Murray's shot wide.
The game moved from end to end, with Kylie Murphy just shooting over the crossbar for the home side while Rovers' Laura Chambers saw her long-range shot flash just wide of the post.
The break came in the 24th minute when the visitors were awarded a free 25 yards out which was floated into the area by Noelle Murray and it went to the back of the net when the 'keeper was distracted, and some of the crowd thought impeded, by the incoming Nicola Sinnott.
Wexford attempted to get back into the game and Rianna Jarrett just got her head to a Celine Slye cross but did not trouble the 'keeper. Disaster struck on the 36th minute when the impressive Rachel Jenkins broke away from Trish Cleary and calmly lifted the ball over the advancing Devereux and into the empty net
Almost immediately Wexford responded when a through ball from Ciara O'brien put Cherelle Khassal clear and she slotted the ball into the corner of the net, only to be ruled offside. Trish Cleary, who was struggling with a recurring injury, was replaced by Nikki Dunphy just before half-time as both sides played out to the break
Ex-rovers player Karina Kelly made her debut for Wexford when replacing the hard-working Celine Slye for the second-half as the home side set about getting themselves back into this league tie. They were enjoying good possession but were finding it difficult to penetrate the Rovers defence, and the visitors were showing a gritty determination to hold on to their lead and get their first win.
Maria Delahunty saw her effort from 20 yards go just wide before Rovers were dealt a major blow when Zara Dillon was sent-off on the hour mark for her second yellow card. To their credit, the visitors did not allow this to affect their composure as Wexford piled on the pressure in search of that elusive goal that would get them back into the match.
Despite enjoying so much possession, Wexford were making little impression on the Rovers back line who kept their shape and composure. As the game made its way towards the finish, a sense of panic took hold in the home side. Rachel Hutchinson came on for Clare Conlon as the team changed formation in an effort to break down a resolute visiting side who now felt their elusive first victory was within their grasp.
Kylie Murphy had the final shot of the day but it was held by Rovers 'keeper Devlin who didn't put a foot wrong all day. After 95 minutes, referee Michelle O'neill sounded the final whistle to spark off unbridled celebrations in the Rovers camp.
It probably will not go down in the annals of the Women's National League history as a classic game, but it was an honest and genuine performance from both sides. Wexford will need to look to where they can find that final edge they need to supplement the possession that they enjoyed in this game.
Wexford Youths Women: Amy Devereux, Celine Slye (Karina Kelly), Clare Conlon (Rachel Hutchinson), Jessica Gleeson, Trish Cleary (Nikki Dunphy), Maria Delahunty, Linda Douglas, Ciara O'brien, Cherelle Khassal, Rianna Jarrett.
Shamrock Rovers: Sarah Devlin, Nicola Sinnott, Lyndsey Hayden, Zara Dillon, Carol Conlon, Laura Chambers, Rachel Jenkins, Orlaith Nolan, Gráinne Walsh (Joanne Ennis), Noelle Murray, Hannah Tyrell (Aoife Maloney).
Referee: Michelle O'neill. Assistants: Brian Fenlon and Darren Ennis.