Kurtis Byrne 45' -
Bohemians cemented Wexford Youths’ place in the relegation play-off spot with a 1-0 win at Dalymount Park in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division on Monday night.
A Kurtis Byrne goal just before the interval after fine work from Paddy Kavanagh was enough to give Bohs the win in a nervy and consistently physical game which Wexford will be bitterly disappointed to have lost in the battle for safety.
It was a nervy start from Wexford when the heart of their defence was threatened after Dean O’Halloran crossed in dangerously for Kurtis Byrne, but it was inches over his head as it went to safety a minute into play.
Youths’ start was symptomatic of a relegation threatened side, and Keegan’s men were in dire need of a break. A break that failed to come when Chris Kenny trapped the ball in box and appeared to be taken down by Lorcan Fitzgerald, but the referee played on with seven minutes on the clock.
Perhaps it was something special that was going to give them the edge. Eric Molloy nearly provided it when he took the ball 35 yards out and unleashed a sumptuous shot that just grazed the top of the bar after 13 minutes before he had a curled attempt go wide two minutes later.
Molloy was involved again with twenty minutes gone as he launched a dangerous and high challenge on O’Halloran, which he received a booking for when he could easily have been given his marching orders.
Bohs, for their part, were struggling to manage a foothold into the game besides Byrne attempting to recreate the magic of his goal against Dundalk but his 25-yard volley left the stadium with 25 minutes gone.
They did however threaten with more vigour as the half progressed and Keith Buckley curled in a brilliant ball for Byrne to head on target but Graham Doyle pulled off a great save to keep the game scoreless.
Despite his controversial challenge, Molloy was continuing to be Youths’ biggest threat and as the ball dropped to him from a free-kick 18-yards-out, he hit a thunderous volley which just went wide of Shane Supple’s goal with 37 minutes played.
Two minutes later, and it was a set piece that nearly proved costly for Bohs again, as Kenny headed straight at Supple from six-yards out when he really should have given Youths the lead.
The physical game was threatening to boil over and Wexford were lucky to have their full compliment on the pitch as Peter Higgins slided in remarkably late and high on Derek Pender, but Referee Dave McKeon only brandished a yellow card as the game approached half-time.
The game looked to be going into the break scoreless until Bohs finally broke the deadlock after some neat play from Paddy Kavanagh down the right. Bohs right winger O’Halloran got to the end line before crossing in for Kurtis Byrne who needed two attempts in the six-yard box to make sure of it as he beat a helpless Graham Doyle for the lead.
The goal was perfect timing for Bohs and they eased into a slow start of the second half dominated again by it’s physicality until Derek Prendergast headed just over eight minutes after the restart from a Fitzgerald corner.
Wexford were deteriorating and a brilliant Roberto Lopes challenge launched another Bohs attack on the hour mark when Buckley played a crisp ball into Byrne but his shot as he entered the penalty area was dragged just wide.
The belief continued to dwindle for Youths and Bohs should have killed the game off with 15 minutes remaining when first, Pender did well to break into the box but his pull back only forced a corner with Jake Kelly waiting to finish it. Then, Fitzgerald curled in a sensational ball across the six-yard box but it somehow avoided three Bohs heads.
Bohs had a bizarre chance to go two up with full-time approaching when Graham Doyle handled the ball outside his area while attempting clear the ball from his hands but Byrne’s effort went easily over to save Doyle’s blushes.
As fourth official indicated three minutes to be added on, a dispirited Youths side could only manage a corner easily collected by Supple before the full-time whistle as their fight to avoid the drop looks ever more difficult.
Bohemian FC: Shane Supple, Derek Pender, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Roberto Lopes, Derek Prendergast, Eoin Wearen, Keith Buckley, Kurtis Byrne (Dan Byrne 90+2), Paddy Kavanagh (Jake Kelly 70), Dean O’Halloran (Mark Quigley 70), Ian Morris.
Subs Not Used: Dean Delaney, Marco Chindea, Warren O’Hara, Dylan Hayes.
Yellow Cards: Morris (55).
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle, Lee Grace, Peter Higgins, Danny Furlong, Eric Molloy, Chris Kenny, Aidan Friel (Paul Murphy 82), Shane Dunne (Andy Mulligan 73), Stephen Last, Andrew O’Connor, Eoin Porter (Aidan Keenan 61).
Subs Not Used: Corey Chambers, Craig McCabe, John Bonner, Shane Dempsey.
Booked: Molloy (20), Higgins (43), Kenny (82).
Referee: David McKeon.
Extratime Man of the Match: Roberto Lopes (Bohemian FC).