Ruairí Keating’s 85th minute penalty earned a frustrated 10-man Finn Harps a share of the spoils against Wexford Youths on Friday night
Finn Harps 1
Wexford Youths 1
Keating, who had been fouled himself by goalkeeper Graham Doyle, held his nerve to grab a battling point for Ollie Horgan’s team.
A Killian Cantwell goal had given the away side the lead.
The central defender planted a curving header right inside Conor Winn’s post following Dean Broaders’ free-kick on 65 minutes with the hosts still ruing the controversial sending off of Keith Cowan.
Cantwell’s was the first effort on target from the side managed by Shane Keegan but enough to consolidate their second place position in the SSE Airtricity League Division One table.
Harps, still third, had held top spot until they were defeated by Shelbourne a week beforehand at Tolka Park.
Keating, who had missed that 2-0 loss through suspension, looked lively from the off.
The Sligo Rovers loanee got on the end of a Michael Funston free-kick on nine minutes but couldn’t keep his effort down.
Twelve minutes later, Johnny Bonner drew a routine save from Graham Doyle in the Wexford goal.
Harps thought they had made the breakthrough when Cowan headed a bundler from Damien McNulty’s knock back past Doyle on 33 minutes from close range after a Bonner corner.
However, match referee Ben Connolly believed Cowan to be leaning in as he won the header and signalled for the free out.
Nine minutes later, the duo crossed swords again when Connolly flashed a red card at the Harps defender.
Cowan was unimpressed with what he felt was theatrics from Danny Furlong after Wexford had been awarded a free-kick .
There was a bit of pushing and shoving from both sets of players, with both Cowan and Furlong raising their hands. Furlong appeared to shove Cowan, who prodded his cheek in return. Technically, Cowan couldn’t claim he hadn’t laid a finger on his opponent but that’s all it was.
However, it was only the Harps player that was dismissed two minutes before the break.
Connolly had been heckled from those on the home terraces following the disallowed goal.
Their sense of disillusionment was further deepened when one of the visiting players involved in the incident in which Cowan saw red, Aidan Keenan, was only given a yellow card for his participation. Furlong went unpunished.
Harps manager Horgan, who had remonstrated with Connolly at the half-time whistle, had to plan for the second half a man light.
Wexford, who had been sitting deep, were naturally a little more adventurous and got their noses in front through Cantwell’s fine header.
It looked as though it was going to be one of those nights for the frustrated locals, until Keating rescued a point.
In the end, it was the home team who were perhaps happiest with a share of the spoils.
Debutant Caoimhinn Bonner made a vital headed clearance to deny Shane Dunne what would’ve been a certain winner.
Then, Packie Mailey blocked bravely after substitute Danny Fitzpatrick had a pop in stoppage time.
Finn Harps: Conor Winn; Damien McNulty, Packie Mailey, Keith Cowan; James Doherty, Michael Funston, Pat McCann, Thomas Bonnar (Caoimhinn Bonner 74), Ciaran Coll; Jonny Bonner (Sean McCarron 74); Ruairi Keating.
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Peter Higgins, Killian Cantwell, Stephen Last, Ryan Delaney; Eric Molloy, Shane Dunne, Shane Nolan, Dean Broaders; Danny Furlong (Danny Fitzpatrick 63), Aidan Keenan.
Referee: Ben Connolly