Shelbourne return home to face UCD

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Tolka Park

Shelbourne return back to Tolka Park after two consecutive weeks on the road in the league. They will be hosting their south Dublin rivals UCD, who currently sit fourth, one place ahead of their hosts.

The home side have not won since the fixture away to Cabinteely over a month ago. In their last 5 games they have lost four and drawn one. Their last fixture, was an away loss to Finn Harps.

Speaking about last week’s game away to Finn Harps, manager Kevin Doherty said, “I was very pleased with our performance last weekend against Finn Harps, which saw us back to our solid best. We had a number of chances to score that vital first goal, but it just didn’t happen. The penalty decision, which, ultimately meant that we left empty handed, was disappointing, but going forward, this is the type of performance we require to get our season back on track.”

Doherty also gave his thoughts on Friday’s game against UCD. “It was a very tough game when we played them early in the season. They have had a number of good results lately. No doubt we can expect them to come to Tolka and play their usual passing game and I expect that there won’t be much between us at the final whistle,” said the Shelbourne boss.

Last time out, the second week of the season, Shelbourne took all three points from Belfield, courtesy of a goal from defender Sean Heaney in the 75th minute.

In the nine games played between the sides (seven league, two Leinster Senior Cup) since the start of 2012, Shelbourne came out on top in five, UCD in three (including a Leinster Senior Cup game won on penalties), with one game drawn.

Neither side have any suspensions to worry about ahead of this fixture. Shelbourne have only one injury concern with Simon Dixon ruled out for the rest of the season with a head injury suffered in the season opener at home to Finn Harps.

UCD come into the game with two wins, two draws and a loss in their last five games. Their last fixture was 1-1 draw at home to sixth place Cobh Ramblers.

Shelbourne, promotion favourites in pre-season, know that they desperately need three points here if they are to chase the league leaders, Finn Harps, who are 12 points ahead of them. However, UCD will be looking to avenge the defeat from earlier in the season and put another dent into Shels’ season.

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Lights out for Shels as Youths take 3 points

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Tolka Park

Technical glitches at Tolka Park were just the icing on the cake on what was an embarrassing night for Shelbourne. Nonetheless, two of the favourites for promotion this season, Shelbourne and Wexford Youths entertained the crowd. It was to be Wexford that came away from this important league clash with all three points after a game that had six goals in it.

The home side got off to a flying start when Gareth Coughlan whipped in across towards the box. The ball met the head of Mark Sandford and looped over the stretching keeper and into the top right hand corner of the net. Then the electrical fairies struck Tolka Park as the floodlights failed and the pitch went dark. The referee suspended play and both teams went back to the dressing rooms.

The game resumed some 30 minutes later. The home proceeded to collapse as the visitors took advantage of the spontaneous break to re group and went on the attack from the off. Shels defender Ryan Robinson nearly gifted the home side the equaliser after he lost the ball to Aidan Keenan on the edge of the box. His effort going just wide of goal. Danny Furlong also had another great chance from a free kick. His effort went inches wide of the goal. Then on the half hour mark, Gary Delaney’s head connected with the ball from a corner. His effort flew past Shelbourne shot-stopper, Greg Murray.

Shelbourne could have gone into the lead not long after. Striker, Sandford was gifted a long ball but he couldn’t get the right first touch on the ball. He tried to play it forward but he scuppered his pass. Efforts went back and forth with Wexford having the best of chances. Their efforts at goal were rewarded on the 38th minute as Furlong made his way up the right hand side of the pitch. He chipped in beautifully from the edge of the box and Keenan was there to meet the ball. His header, like Sandford earlier in the game, looped over a stretching Murray and into the top left hand corner of the goal.

Referee, John McLaughlin must have got caught up in all the excitement happening at Tolka Park. He booked Shels’ Sean Heaney after an elbow on a Youths’ player. Then after consulting the lineman, McLoughlin proceeded to book Ryan Robinson.

The second half, like the previous week, started well for Shelbourne. The side went on the attack from the off and we rewarded for their pressure in the opponent’s half. Conor Early won the ball on the right flank and proceeded to dribble his way around numerous Wexford players and towards the centre of the box. From there he struck the ball sweet and low past Doyle.

The momentum was to stop eight minutes later. Craig Walsh was deemed to have brought down a player in the box. Danny Furlong fired home the spot kick, Greg Murphy guessed the correct way but he couldn’t get a hand to it. The net had not even settled from the penalty when Wexford’s Conor Whittle fired home low and long into the bottom right hand corner to extend the visitor’s lead.

Shelbourne seemed to pick up the pace again when Philly Hughes was brought on. The home side could have easily got a goal back but not for the woodwork. Conor Early’s great strike struck the crossbar and bounced off. Just seconds later, Early seemed to be fouled in the box but the referee just waved play on.

Things got worse for the home side with seven minutes remaining. Defender Ryan Robinson, went late into a tackle. He knew straight away his game was over even before the referee pulled out the yellow card and quickly followed by the red card.

Shels will now look to bounce back in their next fixture, an away trip on Saturday week to St. Colman’s Park to face Cobh Ramblers. Meanwhile, Wexford Youths will be at home for their next game, against Finn Harps, also on Saturday week.

SHELBOURNE: Murray, Doyle (C) (Hughes 64′), Osam, Robinson, Heaney (Andrews 52′), Crowe, Coughlan, Walsh, Sandford, Keegan, Early (O’Sullivan 81′)

Substitutes: Brady, Donnelly, O’Connor, Gannon

Goals: Sandford (9′), Early (52′)
Yellow CardsHeaney (27′), Robinson (27′, 83′)
Red Cards: Robinson (’83)

WEXFORD YOUTHS: Doyle (C), Whittle, Dermody, Delaney, Grace, McCabe, Higgins (Bonnar 77′), Wall, Furlong, Molloy (Mulligan 69′), Keenan

Substitutes: Houghton, Delaney, Drohan, English
Goals: Delaney (30′), Keenan (38′), Furlong (60′), Whittle (63′)
Yellow Cards: Delaney (18′)

Referee: John McLoughlin

Attendance: 676

Promotion contenders clash at Tolka Park

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Shelbourne fans in Tolka ParkIt is third against fourth at Tolka Park on Friday night as Wexford travel to the capital to face promotion rivals Shelbourne in a tie that neither side will want to be on the losing end of.

In their last league fixture away to Waterford United, Shelbourne came back from a two-nil first half deficit to draw the game 2-2. Such was their performance in the last half-hour of the game, forcing corner after corner, that they can be considered unlucky not to have taken all three points back up the M9 to Dublin.

Shels also suffered a 1-0 defeat on the road mid-week to Dundalk in Oriel Park in the second round of the EA Sports Cup. John Mountney’s 11th minute cracker was enough to see off the visitors and put the reigning champions through to the next round.

Wexford Youths, on the other hand, had a magnificent win over one of the other favourites for the league title, Athlone Town, – being the first side this season to take all three points from them.

Of the four games played between Shelbourne and Wexford last season, the Reds won both games played at Tolka Park (2-0 and 3-0), whereas ‘Youths’ won one of their home games (1-0), with the other ending in a 1-1 draw.

On last week’s league game away to Waterford United, Shelbourne manager Kevin Doherty stated he was very happy with the second half display in Waterford, adding “with a bit of luck we could have got the winner. I thought we weren’t too bad in the first half and were somewhat unlucky to be two down at half time – a goal from a set-piece and a wonder goal. I’m very happy with the squad of players I have. They are a very young group and continue to learn all the time.”

And speaking about Friday’s opposition, the manager said, “Wexford are a very good side. I have already said that I see them as the probable winners of the league this season. We know what to expect and we have prepared well for the game. It’s up to us to show what we can do, now.

Shelbourne’s injury problems have not abated and they go into Friday night’s game still missing Simon Dixon, Paul Andrews, Dylan McGlade, Sean Heaney and Dave Ryan. Defender Alan Kehoe is doubtful, having left the field early at Oriel Park with a slight groin injury.

The visitors go into this game without injured duo Dean Broaders and Stephen Last. Both are two weeks away from a return to first team consideration. Andy Mulligan returned to training this week after a hamstring strain and is pushing for a recall to the squad.

There are also injury concerns over Craig Comerford who injured his back in last week’s win over Athlone Town, while Craig Wall (ankle) and Eric Molloy (foot) will face late assessments.