Andrew Dempsey reports from Tolka Park
Shelbourne were held to a scoreless draw at home to fellow title contenders Wexford Youths at Tolka Park on Saturday afternoon.
Both teams had chances to secure all three points, but it wasn’t to be for either – leaving the door open for Peamount United to extend their lead at the top of the table to five points.
Shelbourne came into the game on Saturday afternoon at Tolka Park having seen off local rivals Bohemians by a goal to nil at the Oscar Traynor Centre.
Emily Whelan’s 28th minute strike was enough to see off Bohs for Noel King’s charges – as they stayed three points behind league leaders Peamount United.
Wexford Youths also took on the Gypsies in their last league outing – but they won that game more comprehensively, winning 7-1.
And from that win – albeit a fortnight ago – Tom Elmes’ charges made two changes from that victory, as Ellen Molloy missed out.
Shels started the better of the two – and ought to have taken an early lead through the head of Jess Gargan who headed wide from Noelle Murray’s floating free-kick.
Murray’s set-piece prowess caused issues again for the visitors – but this time it was Jessie Stapleton who would head home past Kiev Gray as her header went just over the bar.
Wexford – who went into the game without Ellen Molloy – grew into proceedings, and began to show a flickering of life – but were restricted to long-range strikes on goal, with Lauren Dwyer’s long-range strike being well held by Amanda Budden.
However, the Reds still created the better chances – and could have taken the lead in the 29th minute, but Saoirse Noonan was denied by Gray in the Wexford goal.
The former Cork City forward burst through after a superbly weighted through ball from Ciara Grant – but she could not convert.
Emily Whelan then went close herself, but she was denied by Gray – this time in a one-on-one situation – who stood tall to deny the lively Shels attacking outlet.
The Reds had one final chance to take the lead before the half-time break, but Noonan could not get enough power on her low strike on goal from the edge of the penalty area to trouble the Slaneysiders defensive line.
Noel King’s side emerged from the break and impressed early on – with Jess Ziu going close after getting her foot on a through ball from Grant as Ziu just dinked her effort over the bar.
Whelan then went close for the hosts – but she could only see her deflected volley from the edge of the penalty area go wide.
That was after Kylie Murphy curled her effort just wide of goal following some good play from Aisling Frawley and Murphy for Youths on the edge of the penalty area.
Ciara Rossiter then went close for the visitors just past the hour mark, but she could only curl her effort over the bar after being teed up by Lauren Dwyer with a pull-back.
The Reds however produced the best chance of the half in the 73rd minute, as Pearl Slattery saw her header crash off the bar from Jess Ziu’s cross.
The ball then fell into the path of Jamie Finn, but she too could not convert as she headed her rebound wide of goal.
Noel King’s side could not convert that momentum and grab the elusive winner as it was Wexford Youths who finished the game the stronger of the two.
The visitors should have sealed all three points with a gilt-edged chance in the 85th minute through Sinead Taylor, as she shot wide after the second half substitute peeled off the Shelbourne defence as the game finished all-square at Tolka Park.
Shelbourne FC: Amanda Budden; Jessie Stapleton, Pearl Slattery, Rachel Graham, Jessica Gargan; Jessica Ziu, Emily Whelan, Ciara Grant, Jamie Finn; Saoirse Noonan, Noelle Murray (Mia Dodd 85).
Subs not used: Taylor White, Ella O'Connell, Sophie Lenehan, Abbie Larkin, Leah F Doyle, Rachel Baynes.
Booked: Jamie Finn (66), Saoirse Noonan (69).
Wexford Youths Women: Kiev Gray; Lynn Craven, Lauren Dwyer (Orlaith Conlon 88), Ciara Rossiter, Nicola Sinnott; Aoibheann Clancy, Aisling Frawley (Doireann Fahey 77), Edel Kennedy, Kylie Murphy; Lynn Marie Grant, Lauren Kelly (Sinead Taylor 64).
Subs not used: Kira Bates-Crosbie, Freya DeMange, Kim Flood, Katie O’Regan, Fiona Ryan, Maeve Williams.
Booked: Edel Kennedy (69) .
Referee: Mark Moynihan.