Wexford advanced to the second round of the Leinster Under-20 football championship at Netwatch Cullen Park this evening, but will need to improve on this display to remain in the competition.

The visitors could have had a goal in the opening seconds when the ball was played long but Jack O'Leary pulled his shot across the goal and wide at the right-hand post.

The goal did come on nine minutes when Jack Higgins drove through a slack Carlow defence and found the net. Two minutes later, he almost scored another but this time Cian Kavanagh turned the shot around the post and the resultant 45 was missed.

Two further points by Conor Kehoe helped Wexford into a 1-3 to 0-1 lead at the water-break. Brian Byrne was the Carlow scorer with a free.

On the restart Kehoe was on target for the Yellowbellies again while Luke Connolly nailed a great point from 45 metres for The Barrowsiders.

In the 23rd minute Kehoe nearly unhinged the Carlow defence as the home side were relieved to clear the danger from the edge of the small square when the ball could have gone anywhere.

Just before the interval Ben Dorgan got in behind the Wexford defence. He looked certain to find the net but keeper, Anto Larkin, spread himself well to make the save. When Dorgan picked up the rebound the defence denied the centre-forward again.

A goal for Carlow would have been huge at the stage as Wexford went to the interval 1-5 to 0-2 ahead.

Carlow showed a higher level of determination after the interval and got their reward forcing a number of kickable frees which Anthony Keating converted.

The victors replied with a Higgins point and were unlucky not to score their second goal when Kehoe shot wide with the defence unable to close him down. At the second water-break Wexford led 1-7 to 0-5 and got a huge boost when play resumed. This time Kehoe made no mistake when he was on the end of a good move to score another Wexford goal.

Carlow were unlucky at the other end when Larkin spread himself well to make a spectacular save. At that stage the game was all but up. Wexford never fully turned the screw.

They invited Carlow onto them and could have paid the price. In the end a brace of good points from play by Niall Hickey was not enough to save the home side who were left to rue a poor first half.

Wexford: Anto Larkin (0-1f); Conor Lyne, Brian Cushe, Paddy Darcy; Zac Firman, Jason Bolger, Sean Carley; Conor Hughes, Liam Doyle; Alan Mahoney, Shane Pettitt, Jack Higgins (1-1); Conor Kinsella, Jack O’Leary (0-1), Conor Kehoe (1-3).

Subs: Ciaran Regan (0-2) for Mahoney (40), James O’Leary for Darcy (46), Joe Curtis for Doyle (50), Rian Fitzpatrick (0-1) for Hughes (53), Ruairi O’Brien for O’Leary (55)

Carlow: Cian Kavanagh; Adam Nolan, Jack McCullagh, Jonah Dunne; Sean Smithers, Finbarr Kavanagh, Patrick McDonnell; Luke Connolly (0-1), Niall Hickey (0-3); Paddy Regan, Ben Dorgan, Fiachra Fitzpatrick; Anthony Keating (0-3fs), Colin Byrne, Brian Byrne (0-1f).

Subs: Shane Buggy for Dunne (26), Mark Foley for C. Byrne (34), Paraic Deering for Nolan (39), Stephen Metcalfe for Fitzpatrick (47), Cormac O’Brien for Byrne (49),

Referee: Gary Hurley (Westmeath)