Mickey Place, who opened the scoring on Friday night, in action against Wexford FC. Picture: Stephen Doherty
On a night of some significance in the battle for the play-offs, Finn Harps got the job done with some degree of comfort against Wexford FC at Finn Park.
Finn Harps . . . 3
Wexford FC . . . 0
Ollie Horgan’s side were impressive winners against a Wexford team who never really recovered following the concession of a bizarre opening goal after only ten minutes.
Harps, looking for a fifth win in six games, were always in control and they ran out comfortable winners to strengthen their push for a play-off finish.
They now sit second in the First Division on their own, moving two points clear of Drogheda United who drew 2-2 with Galway United.
That result means Galway are now eight points adrift of Harps in fifth place, with only four games left to play.
Harps made three changes from the team that won in Cobh on Saturday night. New signing Niall Logue came in for his debut in place of the suspended Keith Cowan; Mark Coyle replaced Mark Timlin, and another new signing, John Kavanagh, made his first start, replacing Tommy McBride.
The form team in the league, they opened with confidence and they quickly got on top.
The home fans were cheering the opening goal after only ten minutes. Wexford looked to have a Harps attack under control but keeper Kelan Gaffney and his captain Ross Kenny decided to leave the ball to each other allowing Place to get a touch on the ball to help it goalwards and over the line.
Harps looked to build on that perfect start and with Coyle, Sobowale and Gareth Harkin dominating the midfield sector, Wexford found themselves struggling to make an impact.
It was Coyle who provided the delivery for the second on 24 minutes - a teasing cross from the left which caught Wexford out at the back and Jesse Devers was able to hammer the ball home at the back post.
Aside from a dangerous Mark Slater free kick which was just about held by Harps keeper Ciaran Gallagher, the visitors offered little threat.
In contrast, Harps worked a number of good openings and after Sobowale drove wide from the edge of the box, Ciaran Coll and Mark Coyle combined for Coll to shoot across the face of goal and just wide.
Harps probably should have led by more at the break. And they came out in the second half seeking the third that would kill this game.
They almost got it within a minute when Place cut the ball back from the by-line but the inrushing John Kavanagh saw his shot blocked by John Morgan.
The same player found himself in the same position again soon after but this time his shot was saved by the legs of keeper Gaffney as Wexford did their best to hold out.
And while the visitors never looked like causing Harps any moments of worry, Harps almost gifted Wexford a way back into the contest just before the hour. Some sloppy defensive play from Horgan’s side led to a Wexford corner which ended with Slater flicking the ball onto the crossbar from close range.
It was a fortunate escape from the home team. But soon after they got the third to see them home and hosed when from a Harkin corner on 64, Sam Todd rose to power home a header into the net.
The chances continued to follow for Harps and Place will still be wondering how he failed to find the net when he slid in, only to divert the ball over from almost on the goal-line.
But a 3-0 win will do nicely, and the members of the Harps FAI Junior Cup winning team from 1968 who were honoured at half time, must surely have been impressed.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Jacob Berg, Ciaran Coll, Sam Todd, Niall Logue, Gareth Harkin (Mark Hannon 81), John Kavanagh (Aidan Friel 70), Jesse Devers, Mikey Place, Mark Coyle (Niall McGinley 67), Oluwantunmise Sobowale.
Wexford FC: Kelan Gaffney, Liam McCartan,John Morgan, Ross Kenny (AJ Lehane 75), Owen McCormack, Conor Sutton, Mark Slater (Ryan Nolan 76), Adam Mylod, Paddy Cahill, Dean Walsh, Dean George (Danny Doyle 55).
Referee: Alan Patchell.