Paddy McCourt - on the mark in Wexford
Finn Harps haven’t the best of records at Ferrycarrig Park - and they were denied a much needed win when Dean Kelly struck a late equaliser for the hosts on Friday night.
Wexford FC . . . 1
Finn Harps . . . 1
Kelly scored with ten minutes remaining after Harps had gone in front on 67 minutes when Paddy McCourt scored from the penalty spot.
McCourt, who missed last weekend’s defeat at home to Cobh, and who has been hampered by an ongoing injury problem, kept his nerve from the spot. Unfortunately for the visitors, they were unable to hold onto that lead and Wexford, after making a couple of late changes, got the equaliser when Kelly pounced to score.
On a busy night of action in the First Division, the leaders UCD surprisingly lost at Cabinteely, while Drogheda United won away at Galway United.
Harps, without the suspended Mark Coyle and Tommy McBride, were forced to recall McCourt and Keith Cowan to their starting eleven, even though both are carrying injuries.
Mark Hannon also played in a midfield that also featured U-19 player Niall McGinley.
Ollie Horgan was without a string of first choice players and just to underline that fact, his substitutes bench included only one player with any significant first team experience in BJ Banda.
Harps were looking for a good response following last weekend’s set-back at home to Cobh.
But it was the hosts who started well and Aaron Dobbs did well early on to set up Shane Barnes but the Wexford man just couldn’t get his shot away.
Conor Sutton also saw an effort off target before Harps created their first opening only for Jesse Devers to shoot wide.
Harps went closer again on 11 minutes when Aidan Friel played Ciaran O’Connor in on goal but the striker’s effort came back off the crossbar.
Soon after Friel was involved again, but this time his shot on goal was pushed over the bar by keeper Gaffney.
From the resulting corner, McCourt’s delivery was met by the head of Cowan but the ball was cleared off the line.
Harps were well on top in the first half and McGinley forced another save from Gaffney just after the half hour.
But Wexford did have a couple of decent efforts on goal before the break when Dean George’s shot was tipped round the post by Ciaran Gallagher and then Dobbs glanced a header wide.
Into the second half and Harps again looked the more likely to break the deadlock. Ciaran O’Connor and Niall McGinley both fired shots on goal .
Just after the hour, Devers crossed to Michael O’Connor but his shot was weak and keeper Gaffney was able to recover to save.
They eventually made the breakthrough on 67 minutes when following a push on Ciaran O’Connor in the box, McCourt stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot.
It could have been 2-0 soon after when Croke almost scored an own goal but Gaffney saved his blushes with a fine stop.
Ten minutes from the end, the home side got themselves back on level terms. Gallagher saved from Croke but Dean Kelly was able to convert from close range.
In the dying minutes, Harps piled on the pressure and they did have an opportunity to hit the winner but Gaffney again came to his team’s rescue, this time saving from Ciaran O’Connor.
Wexford: Kealan Gaffney, Shane Barnes, Owen McCormack, Conor Sutton, Thomas Croke (Ryan Nolan 82), Dean George, Dean Kelly, Sean Kelly, Liam McCartan, Aaron Dobbs (Mark Slater 78), Danny Doyle (Owen Wall 73).
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Aidan Friel, Ciaran Coll, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Mark Hannon, Jesse Devers, Paddy McCourt, Ciaran O’Connor (Jamie Browne 90), Niall McGinley (Dylan McGrory 87), Michael O’Connor (Mickey Place 69).