As the second series of matches get underway in the 2017 SSE Airtricity League First Division, Wexford seek their first win of the campaign when they face Cobh Ramblers at Ferrycarrig Park on Good Friday (kick-off 8pm).
The bottom club have gone four matches (including the EA Sports Cup drubbing at home to neighbours Waterford) without scoring but the mood is upbeat following last week’s league draw with Longford Town.
In the aftermath of last Friday’s heartening 0-0 result at home, Wexford boss Damian Locke told the Wexford FC media team that he felt the team were through their rough patch.
"It's a game everyone is really looking forward to after last week's performance. If we can improve on the Longford game I am fully confident we will get another good result."
The back injury suffered by inspirational captain Graham Doyle against Shelbourne two weeks ago will keep the goalkeeper out of the Cobh match. Corey Chambers proved an able deputy against Longford, which represented Wexford’s first clean sheet of the league season.
Lee Duffy pounced for an 89th minute headed equaliser when these sides met on the opening weekend of the league season. Cobh had led through Dean Swords. Unfortunately, Lee Duffy is also likely to be absent due to a back injury this weekend.
The 2015 champions are likely to persist with their new 3-5-2 formation, which has provided some cause for optimism in recent matches.
No points are awarded for moral ‘victories’ but Cobh Ramblers will take strong encouragement from their performance in front of the biggest attendance of the season at Waterford RSC last weekend.
Patrick McClean’s thumping 80th minute header sent Ramblers home pointless from the top-of-the-table clash with Waterford but Cobh edged the possession stakes and could easily have prised something from the match.
The 2-1 reverse against the Blues saw Ramblers fall to fourth spot in the standings. Waterford continue to lead but the table is a lot tighter at this stage than many were predicting.
Cobh manager Stephen Henderson is content with his side’s progress to date. “After the Waterford match we said to the lads – ‘We’ve played everybody. Who do you fear in this division?’ And the answer from everyone was ‘nobody’.
“So, let’s go at this now. Let’s get our heads down and let’s have a real crack off this. When you look at it, we’re one of the best teams in this league.
“We ground out results in some places and in other games we played really well. We’ve a young squad, and when you see how the young players are maturing on the pitch, that’s very pleasing.
“So that’s the first series done, it’s dusted. We’re three points off the top, that’s incredible. We’ve a lot to look forward to. So now we start again, learn from the mistakes, and let’s see if we can go and kick on.”
But Henderson is taking nothing for granted in advance of the Wexford match.
“In League of Ireland football there are no bad teams. Everybody is hard to beat. They’re down at the bottom of the table, but they’re still a very good side.
“We won’t be arrogant – we can’t just show up for games and expect three points. We’ll prepare well. We know how they play, we know their strengths, and we’ll do our utmost to exploit their weaknesses.”
Referee: Andrew Mullally.
Wexford’s last home victory against Cobh Ramblers was on September 5th, 2015. Two Danny Furlong goals did the trick for Wexford after Kevin Mulcahy had given Cobh the lead.
Cobh Ramblers have scored the most goals (13) in the 2017 SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign to date. Wexford have scored the fewest (3).
Cobh have won just one away game all season while Wexford have picked-up two of their three draws on their home pitch.
Wexford: last five league games LDLLD
Cobh Ramblers: last five games DWLWL
Wexford: 9/4; Draw: 23/10; Cobh Ramblers: 11/10
Wexford 1-2 Cobh Ramblers
Injured: Graham Doyle (back), Lee Duffy (back).
Doubtful: Christopher McCarthy (ankle), Ben O’Riordan (knee), Ryan Hogan (hip).
John Manning began writing for Extratime.ie this year after retiring from the insurance industry. He has been a regular attendee at League of Ireland football matches since the 1970s. He has particularly supported Cork Hibs, Cork Celtic, Cork United, Cork City but has attended many other matches also.
He was formerly Webmaster of the Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland website (www.ppui.ie) to which he still contributes. He is currently Webmaster of the International Pitch and Putt Association website (www.fippa.org).
John broadcast Pitch and Putt on the airwaves from 1994 to 2005 – on CKR, KFM, KCLR FM, Midlands Radio 3, Radio Kerry and Cork 103 FM.
John held many administrative posts within the sport of Pitch and Putt
· Treasurer Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland 1992-93
· Public Relations Officer Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland 1994 – 2005
· General Secretary European Pitch and Putt Association 2000 - 2010
John Manning was the Editor of ‘Backspin’ – official monthly magazine of the Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland – between 1989 and 2005. He still currently contributes to ‘Backspin’.
He is a fervent supporter of the Republic of Ireland football team – home and sometimes away.
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