Brandon Miele shines as Shamrock Rovers teach Wexford Youths harsh lesson
Shamrock Rovers 2 0 Wexford Youths
TURNING draws into wins was the Shamrock Rovers mission statement this year. The prodigiously talented Brandon Miele made it happen in Tallaght last night.
The 2015 PFAI Young Player of the Year broke the deadlock in Sligo Rovers seven days ago with a majestic set piece that sent the Hoops towards three points and he stepped up again on the hour mark here to bring the quiet stadium to life. His invention also created the insurance goal at the death; the 21-year-old is shaping up to make this a big season.
Danny North claimed the decisive opener but it was all about Miele's invention with his superb right footed dead ball catching out veteran Wexford keeper Graham Doyle who could only push it onto bar with the ball bouncing down on the line - North was there to remove any doubt.
It means that Pat Fenlon's charges have a maximum return from ttwo outings. However, they failed to convince against the top flight maidens. In open play they huffed and puffed without any real incision and they rode their luck defensively against a Wexford team which, on this evidence, can pose problems.
The first half of this game was instantly forgettable although the visitors will take serious encouragement from how they settled into their first away game at this level.
Shane Keegan's well-drilled side comfortably succeeded in containing the Hoops who struggled to move the ball quickly and pull the Premier Division newcomers out of shape.
The only moment of real inspiration came in the form of a purposeful Miele dart into the area - centre half Lee Grace cut it off with a well timed challenge. Front man North was subdued and starved of service.
The accuracy of Grace's interception was in keeping with Wexford's execution of their game-plan. They were combative, with midfielders Chris Kenny and John Bonner providing a solid base and refusing to allow Gary McCabe and Killian Brennan settle into a rhythm, but Keegan's men endeavoured to get bodies forward.
Indeed, they had moments on the counter where better decision making might have given home netminder Barry Murphy something to think about.
But it's the period just after the restart which they will reflect upon with regret this morning - and First Division record scorer Furlong will be particularly disappointed.
He spurned two great chances in quick succession to give his side a shock lead. The first attempt was a right footer that Murphy clawed over the bar after the advancing Rovers rearguard played Furlong onside. Then, from the subsequent corner, the unmarked front man sent a free header into orbit.
Gradually, Rovers began to press into Wexford's half, yet the turning point was their ability to win free kicks in dangerous territory. Miele's class eventually punished the indiscretions, although Keegan was miffed with the officials.
His amateur squad refused to lie down and might have restored parity when Dave O'Connor dawdled and Wexford striker Paul Murphy nipped in for a one-on-one which his namesake Barry was equal to.
Keegan's last card was a triple sub but Rovers put it to bed when Grace hauled down Mikey Drennan in the box after Doyle parried away a Miele shot. McCabe stepped up to dispatch the resultant spot kick.
Shamrock Rovers: Murphy, Madden, Blanchard, O'Connor, G Brennan; McCabe, K Brennan (Cregg 80); Miele, Drennan, D Clarke (T Clarke 90); North (Shaw 74)
Wexford Youths: Doyle, McCabe (Wall 79), Grace, G Delaney, R Delaney; Friel, Kenny (Ledwith 79), Bonner (Mulligan 79), Molloy; Furlong, Murphy
Referee: B Connolly (Dublin)