Gerard Grimes reports from United Park
An injury-time strike from Drogheda’s Mark Doyle gave Tim Clancy’s side a 2-1 win over a resilient Wexford at United Park on Friday.
Luke Gallagher had put the home side in front early on but Wexford levelled through captain Owen McCormack ten minutes before half-time.
Drogheda hit the front after just nine minutes as Sean Brennan played a corner short to Chris Lyons, who clipped a ball into the box where Gallagher found himself free to head home from close range.
The Boynesiders continued to attack as Lyons broke a split the Wexford defence to find Doyle but his shot was blocked by a backtracking defender.
Both sides then had free kicks in quick succession, as Jack Doherty went close from 30 yards for Wexford before Brennan’s less threatening effort sailed to the left and wide for the home side.
Wexford equalised three minutes later when Drogheda failed to clear a corner. Wexford’s first two shots, including a low drive by Sean Callan, were blocked before McCormack fired in from close range.
Drogheda looked to respond quickly as Doyle coasted into the Wexford box and cut the ball back to Lyons rather than shooting himself. The pass was slightly behind the sliding Lyons and his touch saw the ball roll out for a goal kick.
The home side began the second half on the front foot, with McNally failing to hit the target in the box after Wexford themselves failed to deal with a corner first time.
The home side continued pressing. Kane’s cross was cleared as far as Brennan who connected well with a first-time volley from the edge of the area but narrowly missed the target.
Doyle was always a threat up front for Drogheda and had two chances in quick succession before the hour mark.
First, Brennan beat his man and played in Doyle but his shot was cleared by a sliding Callan to keep the score level.
Doyle’s next effort saw Kane cut the ball back to the forward on the edge of the area but Chambers was behind the effort the whole way and easily saved.
Doherty was the standout player for Wexford, who did carry a threat going forward. He broke on the left on the 67 minutes mark and crossed to Cahill but Skinner was able to gather.
Wexford were reduced to ten men with just under ten minutes to play as Callan was shown a second yellow after he overran the ball and was adjudged to have lunged in dangerously on Mark Doyle.
It was Doyle who would find the winner with the final chance of the game in injury time.
A long ball up the field was allowed to bounce in the box and Doyle outmuscled the defender, got to the ball before Chambers and fired a left-footed shot into the net to win it for Drogheda.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; Kevin Farragher, Luke Gallagher, Luke McNally; James Brown, Sean Brennan (C) (Stephen Meaney 83), Mark Hughes, Cian Kavanagh (James Clarke 76), Conor Kane; Chris Lyons, Mark Doyle.
Unused Subs: Luca Gratzer (GK), Jake Hyland, Eoin McPhillips, Jordan Adeyemo, Luke Heeney.
Booked: Kevin Farragher (55), Chris Lyons (61), Conor Kane (65), James Clarke (85).
Wexford: Corey Chambers; Owen McCormack (C) (Sean Kelly 74), Sean Callan, Darragh O’Connor, Lee Costello; Danny Doyle (Thomas Croke 86), Paddy Cahill, Ryan Nolan, Emmet Nugent; Jack Doherty, Danny Furlong.
Unused Subs: Colum Feeney (GK), Andrew Farrell, Nika Arevadze, Sean Roche.
Booked: Sean Callan (14, 81), Owen McCormack (18), Darragh O’Connor (42), Ryan Nolan (81), Paddy Cahill (88).
Sent Off: Sean Callan (81).
Referee: David Dunne.
Attendance: 588 (official).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Chris Lyons (Drogheda United).