Wexford F.C. 1 Athlone Town 0
A first-half strike from Adham Masood fired Wexford F.C. into the semi-finals of the SSE Airtricity League Under-17 Shield after a hard-fought contest in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday.
The all-important goal came in the 28th minute when, after a good block by Liam Berry, Masood was quickest to the loose ball and he side-stepped a defender before angling a shot past goalkeeper Darcy Lawless.
In a game of few chances that goal always looked likely to be enough and, although it was backs to the wall for the final quarter, the hosts' defence was always calm under pressure and goalkeeper Colum Feeney didn't have any difficult saves to make.
The Wexford netminder did have to be alert in the twelfth minute when Callum McKelvey sprayed a good pass over the top, but Feeney was quickly off his line to make a block at the feet of Oisín Duffy.
Adham Masood illustrated glimpses of his silky skills throughout, and in the 15th minute his curling effort forced a decent save out of Lawless.
At the other end a long-range strike from T.J. Cox was straight at Feeney, while winger Nashir Ishola threatened twice in quick succession, first whipping a dangerous cross across the face of goal, and then seeing his shot deflected over.
Craig O'Reilly's 27th-minute strike was comfortable for Lawless, but moments later the goalkeeper was picking the ball out of his net when Adham Masood plundered possession, slipped past a defender and buried a shot to the back of the net.
Athlone Town tried to respond before the break, but the closest they came was when Tom O'Carroll's effort took a deflection and looped narrowly off target.
Wexford then threatened to double their advantage just before the interval when Craig O'Reilly picked out Masood with a pinpoint pass, but his effort was blocked at the expense of a corner.
Athlone returned after the break with a greater sense of urgency and Andrew Monaghan headed an Oisín Duffy corner wide, before Callum McKelvey shot off target from the edge of the area, after good one touch play in the build-up from Nashir Ishola and Adam Cronin.
However, in the main, the Wexford defence confidently kept the midlanders at bay, with Jack Gallagher, Reece Murphy, Patrick Barron and Cian Foley all playing their part and making timely interceptions.
The Slaneysiders didn't just sit back inviting pressure though, and on 57 minutes Caelum Travers-Devlin fizzed a well-executed 25-yard volley narrowly wide after a Foley cross was cleared into his path.
Two minutes later Liam Berry's snapshot from an Adham Masood pass was saved, before Athlone's Oisín Duffy manufactured a half-chance, but he couldn't generate enough power on the strike.
The well-drilled Wexford rearguard continued to defend admirably and Athlone rarely looked like making the breakthrough, with Tom O'Carroll firing a couple of long-range free-kicks too high and Brendan Berry heading O'Carroll's corner over the top when leaning backwards.
The home side continued to look capable of snatching the insurance goal though, with Ciarán Paige curling an effort over the crossbar after tenacious play from Masood, whose well-taken goal proved enough for a semi-final berth.
Wexford F.C.: Colum Feeney, Jack Gallagher, Reece Murphy, Patrick Barron, Cian Foley, Brandon Deady, Craig O'Reilly, Caelum Travers-Devlin, Adham Masood, Ciarán Paige, Liam Berry (capt.). Subs. (not used) - James Esser, Conor Signorelli, Jason Daly.
Athlone Town: Darcy Lawless, Keith Rushe, Mark Dillon, Andrew Monaghan, Brendan Berry, Oisín Duffy, T.J. Cox, Adam Cronin, Nashir Ishola, Tom O'Carroll (capt.), Callum McKelvey. Subs. - Jordan Carr for Ishola (61), Thomas McCoughlan for Cronin (67), Maurice Walshe for Rushe (75).
Referee: Brian Fenlon (Wexford).