Shelbourne did just about enough to earn their second win of the season on Friday night as goals from Derek Prendergast and Dayle Rooney secured a 2-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Wexford.
Having failed to win any of their first four league games, Shelbourne have now won two on the spin and are beginning to edge their way up the First Division table. Wexford, on the other hand, are yet to get a win from any of their six league matches.
A 2-0 final scoreline would have seemed entirely unlikely as half-time approached as Shelbourne dominated the opening half but, despite numerous chances, the Reds' one-goal lead at the break didn’t materialise until the 42nd minute.
Adam Evans scooped Dayle Rooney’s cross across the face of goal and outside the post after just two minutes of play, and with ten minutes gone they had had almost all of the ball and all the chances.
Shane Dunne almost gave Wexford an unlikely lead with a ferocious shot from 25 yards on 12 minutes but the ball cannoned off the railing behind the goal rather than rippling Dean Delany’s net.
Wexford then lost their ‘keeper, Graham Doyle, with a back injury and four minutes later his replacement, Corey Chambers, was taken out of the game by a superb low cross from Evans.
His ball from the left evaded Chambers and arrived on the toe of the inrushing James English. Six yards out and with a gaping goal in front of him, English contrived to bundle the ball wide.
Andrew O’Connor then cleared an Alan Byrne header off the Wexford line before Prendergast headed narrowly over, both chances coming from corner kicks on the left. But with half time approaching Shels were yet to turn their dominance into a tangible lead.
That changed on 42 minutes when yet another corner, this time from the right, was thundered into the net from close range by Prendergast, his fourth goal in three games.
If the first half was filled with incident, the second was dull by comparison. Evans curled a shot just over the Wexford bar on 49 minutes but the otherwise the game became characterised by broken play and a general lack of purpose.
The home team’s failure to press home the advantage gained in the first half was almost punished on the hour when Lee Duffy took a tumble under an innocuous challenge from Rooney and referee, John McLoughlin, pointed to the spot.
It appeared the softest of penalties and there was a sense of justice having been served when Wexford full back, Andrew O’Connor, struck it more or less straight at Delany, who effected the save.
But the warning had been sounded and the home crowd spurred their men on to greater efforts. Still, the quality of the play remained low but with tempers rising there was at least a level of commitment that ensured engagement with the final stage of the game.
Shels secured the points on 74 minutes when a ball from the left was met with an acrobatic header by Dayle Rooney. The ball looped upwards and backwards, evading Chambers, and dropped just under the bar before settling in the corner of the goal.
Wexford finished with an urgency that had arrived too late and, despite exerting some pressure on the home defencem it was Shelbourne defender Adam O’Connor who almost had the last say, spinning a right foot shot towards the left hand corner of Chambers’ goal, but the bend on the ball took it outside the post and wide.
This wasn’t a classic by any means but the three points will be no less welcome for Shelbourne manager Owen Heary. Wexford must go again next week and hope that their maiden win comes before their season has become meaningless.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; Adam O’Connor, Derek Prendergast, Alan Byrne, Reece McEnteer; Lorcan Shannon (Aaron Ashe 67), James O’Brien, Mark Hughes, Dayle Rooney (Chris Lyons 90); Adam Evans; James English.
Subs not Used: Jamie Quinn (gk), Jackson Ryan, Dylan Grimes, Jack Tuite, James Brown.
Booked: Ashe (89).
Wexford FC: Graham Doyle (Corey Chambers 17); Craig McCabe, Owen McCormack, Ross Kenny, Andrew O’Connor; Liam Donnelly, Sean Hurley 57), Shane Dunne, Thomas Croke, Craig Wall (Craig Hayes 68), Eoin Porter; Lee Duffy.
Subs not Used: Ricky Fox, Conor Sutton, Sean Eve, John McKeown.
Booked: Kenny (84), McCabe (86).
Referee: John McLoughlin.
Extratime Man of the Match: Derek Prendergast (Shelbourne).