Shamrock Rovers 2-0 Wexford Youths
Second-half goals from Danny North and Gary McCabe helped Shamrock Rovers claim an ultimately comfortable 2-0 victory over Wexford Youths in their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division encounter at Tallaght Stadium.
There was very little in terms of excitement in a disappointing first half as Wexford comfortably repelled some sporadic home pressure, while Danny Furlong offered an isolated threat at the opposite end.
Having spurned two great chances to take the lead, Wexford were punished when North tapped in after Graham Doyle had fumbled Brandon Miele’s free-kick in the 61st minute.
After Paul Murphy had been denied by Barry Murphy, Rovers clinched the win in the 89th minute as McCabe scored from the spot when Lee Grave had upended Pat Cregg inside the area.
The hosts looked disjointed initially and Wexford almost took advantage in the 11th minute but Ryan Delaney’s header lacked sufficient power to trouble Murphy.
The Hoops finally threatened two minutes later but Maxine Blanchard failed to find the target when meeting an inswinging corner-kick by Miele.
Gradually, Rovers began to show greater fluidity in their approach play and another chance was created in the 16th minute but McCabe’s strike from distance proved high and handsome.
With neither side able to find that defence-splitting pass, the contest suffered as a consequence with Furlong next to attempt an ambitious effort from 30 yards that Murphy was able to gather comfortably.
Miele looked the most likely prospect for the hosts at this stage and he almost managed to break through on two occasions within three first-half minutes.
The initial chance arrived in the 29th minute when his dribble took him through on goal but Lee Grace timed his tackle to perfection to deny the Rovers winger.
Within two minutes, the previously impeccable control of Miele was found wanting as the ball eluded his control after a perfectly placed pass from deep by Gavin Brennan.
As the home troubles continued, the visitors managed to create a couple of chances on the counter-attack and they should have done far better in added time but Furlong lacked the required control to take advantage of an inviting Aiden Friel cross.
If Furlong was culpable on that occasion, he could count himself desperately unfortunate within two minutes of the restart when his goal-bound effort from ten yards was repelled superbly by Murphy, who deflected the ball behind.
From the resultant corner-kick, taken by John Bonner, the home defence was marked absent but an unmarked Furlong failed to capitalise, heading wildly over from six yards.
Any momentum that the visitors enjoyed from those early chances was punctured on the hour mark with their goalkeeper Doyle at fault as he failed to collect a Miele free-kick, allowing North the simplest of tasks to tap home from close range.
Despite the disappointment of that concession, the visitors continued to impress with both Murphy and Bonner trying their luck from distance as the half progressed.
In the 78th minute, the golden opportunity that their play warranted arrived through an error from Hoops centre-half David O’Connor but Barry Murphy spared his blushes with another fine stop to deny his namesake Paul.
The contest was effectively settled in the 89th minute as Grace was adjudged to have fouled substitute Pat Cregg with McCabe confidently despatching the resultant penalty to secure a second successive league win for the Hoops.
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Maxime Blanchard, David O’Connor, Gavin Brennan; Brandon Miele, Gary McCabe, Killian Brennan (Pat Cregg, 79), Dean Clarke (Trevor Clarke, 90); Danny North (Gary Shaw, 74), Michael Drennan.
Subs not used: Craig Hyland, David Webster, Rob Cornwall, Richard Purdy.
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Craig McCabe (Craig Wall, 78), Gary Delaney, Lee Grace, Ryan Delaney; Aiden Friel, Chris Kenny (Danny Ledwith, 78), John Bonner (Andy Mulligan, 78), Eric Molloy; Paul Murphy, Danny Furlong.
Subs not used: John Pearce, Conor English, Stephen Last, Matt Connor.
Referee: Ben Connolly (Dublin)