Monday 23 September 2019

Struggles against fellow big three opposition continues

So Hotels Women's National League: Wexford Youths 1 Shelbourne 2

Rianna Jarrett putting pressure on Shelbourne’s Jess Gargan with a menacing run
Rianna Jarrett putting pressure on Shelbourne’s Jess Gargan with a menacing run

Dean Goodison in Ferrycarrig Park

It's pretty clear at this stage that something isn't right with Wexford Youths. Haemorrhaging players, an awful record against decent teams, and simply not playing well enough to give top-quality performances.

Firstly, the record is now no win in five against Peamount or Shelbourne, with just one draw and four losses.

Incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein, the phrase 'insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result' springs to mind.

What exactly did an absent Tom Elmes expect from this game? There were a couple of positional switches, while Aisling Frawley was back, and Lynn Craven made her full debut, but the set-up was the same: prosaic, careful and largely ineffective.

It was marginally better than the WNL League Cup final loss six days earlier, but this side need more than marginal gains. What's bizarre is that they really only got close to a proper tempo in the last ten minutes, and without energy in the performance Wexford just aren't impressive.

If Youths go into the Champions League with this kind of speed of play, and the lack of energy, they'll come back disappointed, there is zero doubt about that.

There's very little left in this season for Wexford, a run at the Senior Cup maybe, but everything has to be left on the pitch in Lithuania.

Secondly, the continual loss of players is hugely concerning. Elmes talked a lot last season about players coming in with the right mentality. 'Fitting the mould' was the phrase, and he often referenced Doireann Fahey as that kind of signing.

The inference was that others didn't have that 'something' that make the likes of Fahey a good fit. In fairness, if players are coming in and not buying into what the club wants to do, and the work the other players are putting in, then they're not good fits.

The worrying thing is that players who have several seasons at Wexford are jumping ship ahead of a Champions League campaign and doing it pretty quickly after falling from favour. It screams that something is wrong internally, badly wrong.

Five of the 17 in the squad on the opening day of the season are gone. Of the starting line-up for that win against DLR Waves, just five were in the first eleven against Shelbourne on Saturday evening.

Two of the most recent losses were young players who have spent a few seasons with the club, namely Sophie Lenehan and Orla Casey.

In several cases, players have been in the starting line-up a couple of weeks earlier and then they disappear. If any more go 'poof' into the Ferrycarrig night, the 'Crime and Investigation Network' might even sanction a documentary series on it.

Finally, the record speaks for itself. Wexford have lost major ground to Peamount, and they have lost serious ground to Shelbourne too. They are now third in the table and look hard pressed to finish any higher.

They will get the chance, as they have to play Shelbourne and Peamount again. They may catch the former for second spot in the table but whether second or third, it's just first or second loser for a side which has won four of the last five Women's National League titles.

They had the best chance of the opening ten minutes when Rianna Jarrett fed the ball back across to Edel Kennedy on the edge of the box. The Wexford midfielder cut inside her marker and poked a shot low that Amanda McQuillan did superbly to push behind.

Chloe Muskati slipped Jamie Finn into the clear three minutes later but, with Maeve Williams advancing, she got too much on her finish and flashed over the crossbar.

The probing continued until Shelbourne took the lead in the 25th minute.

It was complete mayhem in the Wexford box after Williams came to meet Jessica Ziu and didn't get there, as the ball pinged around goal and Jess Gargan forced it home.

When things aren't going well, decisions tend to go against you, and Wexford felt the brunt of that in the 32nd minute.

Rianna Jarrett got away on the left, fired the ball across the box and McQuillan spilled it. Kennedy reacted quickest to poke the ball home but referee Seamus Kelly, whose positioning was poor, managed to find a phantom infringement in a situation where the ball was there to be won and certainly wasn't in possession of the 'keeper.

After Kylie Murphy was fouled from behind, Jarrett sent a 30-yard free-kick low to the right but McQuillan tipped it behind.

Frawley flashed over the bar from Jarrett's pull-back in the 41st minute, before Gargan struck the ball wide at the other end.

Shelbourne were the brighter side at the start of the second-half and went closest to extending their lead when Gleeson drilled a shot wide from the edge of the area in the 57th minute before heading over from a corner seven minutes later.

Noelle Murray got away on the left in the 70th minute but flashed across the face of goal with Williams sprawling.

Wexford had upped the ante a little but hadn't looked like getting an equaliser until suddently they did just that in the 72nd minute.

Ciara Rossiter sent a left wing free-kick into the box that Shelbourne cleared. Doireann Fahey hooked it back into the area where Jarrett controlled, turned and rammed it low past McQuillan to the net.

Wexford had their best ten minutes in the final ten of normal time, and it was no surprise that they played with a much better tempo in that spell.

Jarrett had a header saved by McQuillan, appeals for a penalty for a Gleeson handball were ignored, Jarrett nodded another one wide, and Kylie Murphy flashed off target after intercepting in the Shelbourne half.

At the other end Kate Mooney forced a save from Williams in the 89th minute, but the stop was in vain as Shelbourne midfielder Jamie Finn powered home a header from Isibeal Atkinson's cross three minutes into added-time to win the game for the visitors.

Wexford have a friendly with Southampton on Friday, while their league game against DLR Waves set for Saturday has been postponed.

They then fly out to Kaunas on Monday, with their Champions League campaign starting against Albanian side Vllaznia two days later in Alytus.

Wexford Youths: Maeve Williams; Nicola Sinnott, Lauren Dwyer, Orlaith Conlon, Lynn Craven; Kylie Murphy (capt.), Edel Kennedy; McKenna Davidson, Aisling Frawley, Ciara Rossiter; Rianna Jarrett. Subs. - Doireann Fahey for Frawley (70), Aoife Slattery for Kennedy (73), Blessing Kingsley for Davidson (78), also Ciamh Dollard, Becky Cassin, Vanessa Ogbonna, Katrina Parrock.

Shelbourne: Amanda McQuillan (capt.); Jess Gleeson, Pearl Slattery, Rachel Graham; Chloe Mustaki; Jess Gargan, Alex Kavanagh, Jamie Finn, Jessica Ziu, Emily Whelan; Noelle Murray. Subs. - Alannah McEvoy for Whelan (63), Isibeal Atkinson for Gargan (78), Kate Mooney for Murray (82), also Rachel Kelly, Jenny McDade, Rebecca Cooke.

Referee: Seamus Kelly.

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