Technical glitches at Tolka Park were just the icing on the cake in what was an embarrassing night for Shelbourne.
Nonetheless, two of the favourites for promotion this season, Shelbourne and Wexford Youths entertained the crowd. It was to be Wexford that came away from this important league clash with all three points after a game that had six goals in it.
The home side got off to a flying start when Gareth Coughlan whipped in a cross towards the box. The ball met the head of Mark Sandford and looped over the stretching keeper and into the top right hand corner of the net. Then the electrical fairies struck Tolka Park as the floodlights failed and the pitch went dark. The referee suspended play and both teams went back to the dressing rooms.
The game resumed some 30 minutes later. The home side proceeded to collapse as the visitors took advantage of the spontaneous break to re-group and went on the attack from the off.
Shels defender Ryan Robinson nearly gifted the home side the equaliser after he lost the ball to Aidan Keenan on the edge of the box. His effort going just wide of goal.
Danny Furlong also had another great chance from a free kick. His effort went inches wide of the goal. Then on the half hour mark, Gary Delaney’s head connected with the ball from a corner. His effort flew past Shelbourne shot-stopper, Greg Murray.
Shelbourne could have gone into the lead not long after. Striker Sandford was gifted a long ball but he couldn’t get the right first touch on the ball.
He tried to play it forward but he scuppered his pass. Efforts went back and forth with Wexford having the best of chances.
Their efforts at goal were rewarded on the 38th minute as Furlong made his way up the right hand side of the pitch. He chipped in beautifully from the edge of the box and Keenan was there to meet the ball. His header, like Sandford earlier in the game, looped over a stretching Murray and into the top left hand corner of the goal.
Referee, John McLaughlin must have got caught up in all the excitement happening at Tolka Park. He booked Shels’ Sean Heaney after an elbow on a Youths’ player. Then after consulting the lineman, McLoughlin proceeded to book Ryan Robinson.
The second half, like the previous week, started well for Shelbourne. The home side went on the attack from the off and we rewarded for their pressure in the opponent’s half. Conor Early won the ball on the right flank and proceeded to dribble his way around numerous Wexford players and towards the centre of the box. From there he struck the ball sweet and low past Doyle.
The momentum was to stop eight minutes later. Craig Walsh was deemed to have brought down a player in the box. Danny Furlong fired home the spot kick. Greg Murphy guessed the correct way but he couldn’t get a hand to it. The net had not even settled from the penalty when Wexford’s Conor Whittle fired home low and long into the bottom right hand corner to extend the visitor’s lead.
Shelbourne seemed to pick up the pace again when Philly Hughes was brought on. The home side could have easily got a goal back but not for the woodwork. Conor Early’s great strike struck the crossbar and bounced off. Just seconds later, Early seemed to be fouled in the box but the referee just waved play on.
Things got worse for the home side with seven minutes remaining. Defender Ryan Robinson, went late into a tackle. He knew straight away his game was over even before the referee pulled out the yellow card and quickly followed by the red card.
Shels will now look to bounce back in their next fixture, an away trip on Saturday week in St. Colman’s Park to face Cobh Ramblers.
Meanwhile, Wexford Youths will be at home for their next game, against Finn Harps, also on Saturday week.
SHELBOURNE: Murray, Doyle (C) (Hughes 64′), Osam,Robinson, Heaney (Andrews 52′), Crowe, Coughlan, Walsh, Sandford, Keegan, Early (O’Sullivan 81′)
Substitutes: Brady, Donnelly, O’Connor, Gannon
Goals: Sandford (9′), Early (52′)
Yellow Cards: Heaney (27′), Robinson (27′, 83′)
Red Cards: Robinson (’83)
WEXFORD YOUTHS: Doyle (C), Whittle, Dermody, Delaney, Grace, McCabe, Higgins (Bonnar 77′), Wall, Furlong, Molloy (Mulligan 69′), Keenan
Substitutes: Houghton, Delaney, Drohan, English
Goals: Delaney (30′), Keenan (38′), Furlong (60′), Whittle (63′)
Yellow Cards: Delaney (18′)
Referee: John McLoughlin
Conor McManus, Pundit Arena