Sludds double fires Oylegate to victory
Wexford Football League: Oylegate United 2 Wexford Albion 0
A first-half double from Eunan Sludds earned Oylegate United the points after a hard-fought Division 3A encounter in Crossabeg Community Field on Sunday.
Both goals came after hesitancy in the Wexford Albion defence and Sludds was in no mood to look a gift horse in the mouth as he made the most of the chances that fell his way to fire the hosts to a deserved victory.
Wexford Albion played some nice football at times and managed to weave together a few decent passages of play, but they lacked a cutting edge in the final third and for all their huffing and puffing they rarely troubled goalkeeper Patrick Shannon.
A lot of credit must go to the Oylegate rearguard though, as full-backs Barry Dunne and Jimmy Kinsella got through Trojan work during the 90 minutes, while Jeff Scally and Alan Quigley were rock solid at the heart of the defence.
The town side began with serious attacking intent and fired an early warning shot just 20 seconds in, when Luke O'Neill found Jason Leniston, who waltzed through and blazed an effort across the face of goal and wide of the right post. Moments later Sam O'Neill played in Kyle Mann and he made a decent connection on the strike but netminder Shannon was behind the shot all the way, while at the other end Barry Dunne warmed the gloves of Reece Doyle with a curling shot.
Oylegate gradually began to blunt the attacking threat of Albion and they made the breakthrough themselves in the 17th minute when Ben Butler played a back pass to Doyle, and as the goalkeeper attempted to make the clearance Eunan Sludds was on to him life a flash and the ball rebounded off the number ten and into the net.
Wexford Albion tried to respond and Butler scooped a shot over the bar on 25 minutes after Sam O'Neill's effort following a Kyle Mann corner had ricocheted into his path.
Mann tried his luck two minutes later, curling a long-range free narrowly over the top, while eight minutes before the break Shannon let a Liam O'Connor strike slip from his grasp at the expense of a corner, although he quickly restored his confidence by coming off his line and gathering the resulting flag-kick with real authority.
The boys in blue then doubled their advantage six minutes before the break, when Albion dithered in defence and Pierce Murphy stole possession.
Murphy's through ball grazed the head of a defender and found Sludds in space, and the attacker made no mistake, confidently planting the ball past Doyle.
Albion came within a whisker of halving the deficit in the 42nd minute when Kyle Mann's corner fell to Liam O'Connor on the edge of the area, and his curling effort shaved the top of the crossbar.
Two minutes later they could have been dead and buried and it was that man again, Eunan Sludds, who threatened.
A clever flick from Pierce Murphy found Ryan Hill on the right wing, and his cross to the back post was headed into the side netting by Sludds.
The forward again had a hat-trick in his sights when he raced on to a through ball from Lee Kehoe five minutes after the interval but goalkeeper Reece Doyle was bravely off his line to avert the danger, picking up a nasty facial injury in the process and having to be substituted, with defender Paul Dempsey taking his place between the sticks.
Albion pressed forward for most of the second-half but they found Oylegate in determined mood as they defended from front to back as if their lives depended on it.
Kyle Mann and Shane Hall both saw their efforts blocked, while at the other end Pierce Murphy's angled drive was comfortable for stand-in goalkeeper Dempsey.
Oylegate continued to defend tigerishly, with Alan Quigley making a perfectly-timed tackle on Mann as he was about to pull the trigger.
Wexford Albion did manage to work a decent opening in the 80th minute when Mann did well to get to the byline and sent a teasing delivery across the face of goal, but the stretching Sam O'Neill headed a difficult chance over the top.
Jason Daly also failed to get his header on target when he got on the end of an Ian McGuire free-kick in the sixth minute of injury time as Oylegate United held firm to keep the clean sheet that their endeavour merited.
Oylegate United: Patrick Shannon, Barry Dunne, Jeff Scally, Alan Quigley, Jimmy Kinsella, Pierce Murphy, Stephen McCormack, Ryan Hill, Lee Kehoe, Eunan Sludds, John McCormack. Subs. - Stephen Ring for Murphy, Anthony Doyle for S. McCormack, Gary Savage for Sludds, also John Lambert, Ciarán O'Brien.
Wexford Albion: Reece Doyle, Paul Dempsey, Harry Kavanagh, Jason Daly, Ben Butler, Luke O'Neill, Shane Hall, Sam O'Neill, Liam O'Connor, Kyle Mann, Jason Leniston. Subs. - Ian McGuire for Doyle (inj.), Ian Malone for Kavanagh, Jamie Doyle for O'Connor, also Pierce Dooley.
Referee: Ger Cleary.
New Ross Standard