Conor Crowley 60' -
Andrew Dempsey reports from Tolka Park
Title hopefuls Shelbourne clinched their first win of their 2021 First Division campaign on Friday evening with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Wexford at Tolka Park.
The Reds were perhaps fortunate in the way they won the game, with Conor Crowley’s own-goal the difference between the sides.
The defeat will come as a cruel blow to the visitors who stifled their more illustrious hosts – not that it matters to Shels who are now up and running on the winning column this season.
Both teams came into the game searching for the first wins of the year – with Shels making two changes from their 3-3 thriller at home to Bray Wanderers last weekend.
Michael Barker came in for Maxim Kouogun, while Dayle Rooney was also drafted in place of Sean Quinn.
Brian O’Sullivan’s Wexford handed a start to Daniel Tobin who missed the opening two games of the season. Jack Larkin and James Carroll also came into the starting XI.
The hosts started the better of the sides, albeit marginally – with JJ Lunney directing the play at will.
However, it was his midfield partner Ryan Brennan who was at the heart of most of their threatening play.
Shels had a notable penalty shout in the ninth minute of the game – but referee Gavin Colfer waved away the protests.
The Reds actual first chance of the game came through debutant Barker – but Georgie Poynton could not convert his expert cross.
Wexford then had a chance of their own via Paul Fox – but he never got a good enough strike on the ball to trouble Brendan Clarke from a misplaced Ally Gilchrist headed clearance.
The hosts then carved open the Slaneysiders in the best move of the opening stages of the game – with Brennan at the heart of it.
The former Drogheda United livewire was set free thanks to a one-two with Barker – before he then sent John Ross Wilson down the flank.
Wilson’s cross however was not met by Yoyo Mahdy at the back post – as the Reds wasted a gilt-edged opportunity.
O’Sullivan’s charges then engineered a superb opening of their own – but Conor Crowley took too much out of the ball before his shot was blocked.
Crowley, the ex-UCD midfielder, was found with a deft Jack Doherty flick-on, but his effort was blocked by a Shels defender after he dragged the ball out wide.
The Slaneysiders continued to impress as the half wore on – limiting the hosts to few chances.
Mahdy’s header was the closest they went to opening the scoring after he got on the end of a Kevin O’Connor cross as the sides went in level at the break.
Having struggled in spells during the first-half, Shels emerged a much-improved side in the second period, but they did cough up the first chance of the half.
The lively Fox went close with an acrobatic effort – but it was never troubling Clarke in all truth.
Shels forward Michael O’Connor went close just before the hour mark – as he headed Barker’s sumptuous delivery over the bar.
But the breakthrough finally came on the hour mark – albeit in fortunate circumstances.
Wexford’s Crowley was the unlucky player who turned into his own net as he tried to clear a wayward headed clearance by his own defender.
Ian Morris’ charges sensed blood following their opener – and Michael O’Connor then went close, but his downward header just went over the bar.
However, Wexford stayed a threat, with Crowley blazing over the bar following a poor Gilchrist clearance.
Mahdy then went close again for the hosts in the 77th minute – but he could only steer his header wide after a cross from Wilson.
The Slaneysiders fashioned the last real opening of the game five minutes from time, as James Carroll’s header was well saved by Shels ‘keeper Clarke.
And that was it for the hosts in terms of salvaging a point, as Shelbourne clinched their first three points of the season to move into third position in the league table.
Wexford remain in tenth, but they will take positives from their display as they take on Cobh Ramblers next weekend.
Shelbourne: Brendan Clarke; Kevin O'Connor, Ally Gilchrist, Michael Barker, John Ross Wilson; Dayle Rooney, George Poynton, JJ Lunney, Ryan Brennan (Brian McManus 73); Michael O'Connor, Yoyo Mahdy (Alex Cetiner 87).
Subs not used: David Toure, Stephen Negru, Maxim Kouogun, Denzil Fernandes, Shane Farrell, Jack Brady.
Booked: Michael O'Connor (65).
Wexford: Jimmy Corcoran; Conor Crowley, Paul Cleary, James Carroll, Dan Tobin (Success Edogun 87); Paul Fox, Jack Doherty, Jack Larkin (Kyle Robinson 67), Karl Manahan, Luke Turner; Karl Fitzsimons.
Subs not used: Evan Farrell, Anthony Dolan, Daniel Dobbin, Sean Martin, Kevin McEvoy, Tom Murphy, Charlie Smith.
Referee: Gavin Colfer
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Paul Fox (Wexford).