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Anto Flood returned to the role of goal scorer as Shels’ beat a very well organised Wexford outfit at Tolka Park. Flood’s seventy ninth minute goal, his first in four games, finally beat a side who had battled to thwart dozens of Shels’ forays forward.
Flood’s finish came about after Keith Dunne had won possession deep in Wexford territory. His square ball was easily finished by Flood as Shels’ returned to the top of the eircom First Division.
Both Flood and his strike partner David Freeman enjoyed chances in the first ten minutes. A mix-up between Anto Russell and Stuart Lawlor from a long ball released Freeman, his shot lobbed wide, whereas Flood wriggled free of his marker eight yards out only minutes later but his shot couldn’t find the target. James Chambers played in Flood again however he couldn’t beat the keeper from an acute angle as Wexford’s work rate was not rewarding them with any chances.
Danny Furlong tested Dean Delaney on sixteen minutes with a free header from Conor Sinnott’s cross in a rare Wexford attack, but it was Shelbourne who should have opened the scoring through Mark Rutherford two minutes later. Lawlor nipped in ahead of Flood to clear when under pressure however the balled rolled into the path of Rutherford whose shot was drilled wide from six yards.
The home side were livid on the half hour after David McGill chased down a long ball from Flood. In on goal it seemed that he was barged over by Anto Russell, but the referee ignored the well-founded protests. The crowd should have been cheered up four minutes later after a Keely through ball squirmed into Freeman’s path, but he toe poked wide as the visitors were pegged firmly in their own half for most of the forty five minutes.
McGill won the ball on the halfway line just after the break and through Freeman, released Flood down the left. After cutting inside, Jason Russell was called on to tip the strikers curling shot just wide.
Shels’ were destroying Wexford now as the visitors maintained a 4-4-2 formation but locked it in and around their box. The home side pushed and pushed without creating many clear chances until the seventy third minute when Alan Murphy forced his way into the box and squared it to the newly introduced Keith Dunne. As bodies threw themselves in his way the ball rolled into Flood’s path, but his side footed shot rolled just wide.
Crosses were loaded into the visitor’s box but were largely dealt with by the back four as Shels’ began to get frustrated. A Murphy cross on seventy seven minutes was fumbled by Russell only for a Wexford leg to clear to safety. A moment later O’Halloran’s twenty yarder hit the post, rolled across the goal, but the referee blew for an infringement before Rutherford could finish.
Shels’ finally got the goal after a mistake let in Dunne down the right. He rolled the ball into Flood’s path to finish to the massive relief of the fans. Wexford chased the game down but never looked like equalising, with Shels’ maintaining their threat to the last.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; Alan Murphy, Alan Keely, Damien Brennan, Robbie Hedderman; James Chambers (Alan Mulcahy 46), David McGill, Mark O’Brien (Keith Dunne 66), Mark Rutherford; Anto Flood, David Freeman (Greg O’Halloran 66).
Subs not used: Fred Davis Jnr, Dean Lawrence.
Wexford Youths: Jason Russell; Paul Rossiter (Gavin Doyle 80), Anto Russell, Stuart Lawlor, Johnny Flynn-O’Connor; Conor Sinnott, Shane Dempsey, Patsy Malone, Keith Kearney; Danny Furlong, Richie Fitzgerald (Kyle Dempsey 59).
Subs not used: Conor Wallace, Joey Wadding, Craig McGuire.
Referee: Rob Rogers.
Man of the Match: Patsy Malone (Wexford Youths) - Performing well on a very difficult night for Wexford, he frustrated Flood throughout.
Gordon Hunt is one of extratime's Dublin based reporters. Having worked with the site since it's inception, Gordon's name is carved into the foundations of extratime's tower block.
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