Wexford Youths will be counting themselves lucky after leaving Tolka Park with a point after an entertaining, albeit one-sided goaless draw in the capital. Shelbourne dominated the possession from the start and had numerous efforts to take all three points but they just could not break the deadlock and will be left fuming with this result as they push towards the latter stage of the season.
The first half was a lively affair. Shelbourne were in control for most of the opening exchanges. Gareth Coughlan had a wonderful chance to put his side ahead early in the game. The winger moved in from the left hand side of the pitch and muscled his way towards the centre of the box. Pulling off a dummy shot, Coughlan then gave himself plenty of space and time to take a crack at goal. His effort curled from right to left but landed straight in the arms of Youth’s keeper Graham Doyle.
Coughlan also had a few other chances to put his side ahead. However, his efforts were soft and were easily picked up by Doyle. The best effort in the half started with a lovely pass by Philip Hughes, his back to the goal, laying the ball to Mark Sandford. The young striker hit the ball sweetly with his right foot and it was curling towards goal. However, there was just a bit too much power behind it as it crept over the bar.
Wexford Youths came into their own after the first quarter. Ryan Delaney went close to putting the visitors ahead with a perfectly timed header from a free kick. The effort was picked out by Shelbourne’s shot stopper, Greg Murray.
Wexford Youths came back onto the pitch after the break a livelier side as they knew, arguably, they should have been behind going in at half time. Andrew Mulligan went close to putting his side ahead with a low shot to the right which troubled Murray as the ball spilled out of his hands. Danny Furlong went for a strike at goal but was beaten to the punch by Murray who tucked the ball safely in his hands and chest. A let off for the home side.
The second half was only ten minutes old when the the biggest talking point of the game occurred. James English, on for Mark Sandford at the break, had made his way into the box when attempting to slither through two of the visiting defenders. The striker clattered into the defence and landed flat on the ground, hands in the air. The referee and his assistant judged that there wasn’t much in it. A real let off for the visitors as a penalty could have easily been given on another day.
In the latter stages of the half, It was all the home side. They attacked and attacked but they just could not break the deadlock. Hughes had a few good efforts at goal. The pick of the punch being Darragh Gannon directing a long pass to the striker, who picked it up just inside the area and took a shot, however the effort was tipped wide by Doyle.
English seemed to be brought down a second time in the box. However, he looked to have made the most of it as it appeared that Lee Grace had grabbed a fistful of the striker’s shirt. The striker also went close several times from dead ball situations. He managed to direct a number of headers towards goal but they either crept over, were tipped over or cleared inches from the line.
The draw halts Shelbourne’s four game winning streak. They now sit in third place, four points behind new league leaders, Finn Harps. UCD, who are fourth, remain a threat to Shels, as they sit one point behind but have two games in hand after their exploits in Europe. Shelbourne travel to fifth place, Cobh Ramblers next Saturday as they push ahead in their bid for promotion back to the Premier Division.
Wexford Youths drop to second in the league despite earning their first point in nearly three weeks. They will be at home next Friday to welcome Finn Harps in the clash of the top two in the division. Manager, Shane Keegan will know that his side will need to improve if they wish to secure the top spot once again.
SHELBOURNE: Murray, Gannon, Osam, Robinson, Heaney, Doyle (C), Coughlan, Donnelly (Walsh 60′), Hughes, Sandford (English 45′), McGlade
Substitutes: Ryan, Andrews, Crowe, O’Sullivan, Walshe
Yellow Cards: Coughlan (35′)
Wexford Youths: Doyle (C), McCabe, R.Delaney (Tyrell 61′), G.Delaney, Grace, Higgins, Mulligan, Wall, Furlong, Cathillane (Dunne 93′), Whittle (Molloy 61′)
Substitutes: Dunne, Dermody, Kenny, Peare, Dowling
Yellow Cards: Wall (85′)
Referee: Ben Connolly