Finn Harps 3 - 3 Wexford YouthsSat, Jul 21 2012
TOM Elmes broke Finn Harps hearts for the second time this season after coming off the bench to net a late, late equaliser for Wexford Youths at Finn Park on Saturday night.
Harps looked to have sealed all three points after rescuing a two-goal deficit before Shaun McGowan made it 3-2 with four minutes remaining.
First-half goals from Shane Nolan and Joe Mulcahy gave Wexford the perfect start and put the south-easterner’s well on their way to recording a third straight league win over Harps this season.
However, Peter Hutton’s side rallied superbly and a header from Thomas McMonagle brought the home side back into the contest before skipper Kevin McHugh rifled home a thunderous long-range free-kick early in the second half.
With the game in the melting pot and both side’s giving it hell for leather, Harps appeared to have struck the final blow when McGowan burst forward to slam home with four minutes remaining.
Wexford, though, utilised every second of the referee’s four minutes added on time as Elmes cut inside from the left before unleashing an ambitious shot that took a wicked deflection off a Harps player before looping over the head of goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher.
Elmes scored the winner the last time the sides met in Ballybofey and his goal this time around was enough to keep Harps below Wexford in the First Division standings.
Although the first half was one which Harps largely dominated, the opening twenty minutes was all about Wexford’s breathless attacking play.
The visitors broke the deadlock after just seven minutes when Mulcahy rounded Ciaran Coll down the left flank before laying off to Shane Nolan. There didn’t appear to be too much on for the Wexford striker but a wonderfully-executed lob from the angle of the penalty box caught Ciaran Gallagher unaware as Shane Keegan’s side got off to the perfect start.
Harps responded well to that early set-back but Wexford goalkeeper Graham Doyle had his wits about him to produce two fine saves in quick succession to deny Kevin McHugh and towering centre-half Mark Scoltock.
Wexford then doubled their advantage on twenty-one minutes following a majestic dink over the top of the defence by Dean Broaders to free Mulcahy.
Gallagher was alert to the through ball and raced from his line to produce a fantastic point-blank save on Mulcahy’s first-time half-volley, but the ball rebounded back into the Wexford player’s path for a simple tap-in.
Harps, though, were given a welcome reprieve just six minutes after conceding their second when a corner by James Doherty evaded everybody inside a crowded penalty area before somehow making its way to McMonagle, who had an easy header at the back post to half the deficit.
The home side went on to dominate the remainder of the first half, albeit without testing Doyle on a regular basis, while Wexford always looked threatening on the break through the likes of Furlong and Mulcahy.
The Ferrycarrig outfit almost restored their two-goal advantage on the brink of half-time as Brian Nolan unleashed a thumping long-range drive that required Gallagher to be at full stretch to tip over the crossbar.
The Wexford midfielder was then at the centre of Harps’ equaliser after he hauled down Shaun McGowan some 30 yards from goal, which earned him a yellow card from referee Phil Caschera.
And from the resulting free-kick, Kevin McHugh – starved of any real quality possession to make an impact from open play – stepped up to angle an unstoppable drive into the top right-hand corner to draw Harps back on level terms.
Unsurprisingly, both sides were in no mood to sit back and be content with a draw; Wexford naturally disappointed at having squandered a two-goal lead and Harps buoyed by their inspired comeback.
Furlong could and probably should’ve restored his side’s lead following a quick breakaway but Gallagher denied him with his outstretched left leg, while at the other end Doyle produced a timely intervention to stop a Paul McVeigh cutback from reaching Matt Harkin, who was ready to pounce from a matter of yards.
McGowan then raced onto a cushioned McHugh knockdown before firing between the legs of Doyle in the eighty-sixth minute, but it wasn’t enough for Harps to seal all three points as Elmes had the final say with an equaliser right at the death.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; James Doherty, Keith Cowan (Gary Merritt 79), Mark Scoltock, Thomas McMonagle; Adam Clarke (Paul McVeigh 58), Aaron O’Hagan, Shaun McGowan, Ciaran Coll; Matt Harkin, Kevin McHugh.
Subs not used: Rory Kelly, Chris McBride, Shane McGinty, Hugh McFadden, Jordan Duffy.
Bookings: Harkin (77).
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Shane Clarke, James Scallon, Jimmy Carr, Sean Corcoran; Joe Mulcahy, Craig Wall, Brian Nolan, Dean Broaders (Glen Hawe 77); Danny Furlong, Shane Nolan (Tom Elmes 84).
Subs not used: James Darmody, Gary Delaney, Paul Malone, John Yeats.
Bookings: S Nolan (23), B Nolan (58).
Referee: Phil Caschera.