Wexford Youths -v- Finn HarpsThu, May 10 2012
Wexford only lost once in their opening six league games, finding themselves second in the table as recently as April 12th. But three defeats in their last four league outings has dropped Shane Keegan’s men back to fourth place, fully nine points behind league leaders Longford Town.
Limerick, Waterford and Longford have all taken full points from their encounters with the Youths over the last month, with only a home win over bottom side SD Galway standing between themselves and a four game whitewash.
However, Wexford fans will be aware that their meeting with Harps in the first round of league games signalled the start of a three game winning sequence, and Keegan will be keen for his charges to re-establish themselves as a threat to the Division’s front runners.
Recent form aside, Wexford approach the game knowing that Tom Elmes, with six league goals, is the Division’s top-scorer and that their settled defence is still the joint meanest of the eight First Division sides.
Shane Keegan has no suspension issues and only awaits fitness tests on CJ Browne, Dean Broaders and Shane Nolan for a fully available squad.
Having steadied the ship with three consecutive wins, Finn Harps management duo Felix Healy and Peter Hutton find themselves back in stormy waters as they approach Friday night’s clash with Wexford Youths on the back of three straight defeats.
Wins over Waterford United, SD Galway and league leaders Longford Town, have been swiftly followed by defeats against Limerick, Mervue and Athlone. This total reversal in form is mirrored in the club’s goal difference over those two three-game spells. Having scored eight and conceded just one during their three wins, they have now conceded eight and scored two in the latest trio of defeats.
Harps’ Achilles heel appears to be their inability to defend against set-pieces, something that Felix Healy commented on when he spoke to the club website, finnharps.com, in the build up to the game.
“As I’ve been saying inside and outside the dressing room our inability to deal with set pieces has cost us at least 9 points, which would drive you crazy,” said Healy. “We have been so comfortable at times this season in games but a set piece has undone all the good work.”
Healy and Hutton can pick from a squad free of suspensions but they will once again be without long term injury victims Keith Cowan and Stephen O’Donnell, while defender Ciaran Coll is doubtful with a knee injury.
Referee: James McKell.
Wexford have already beaten Finn Harps in the opening round of league games, winning 1-0 at Finn Park back in March thanks to a Tom Elmes goal.
Wexford have failed to score in just three of their ten league games, but all three of those blanks have come in their last four outings.
Games involving Finn Harps have had more goals, for and against, than any other side in the First Division (32). In fact, only three of Harps’ ten league games have produced lass than three goals.
Wexford 21/20; Draw 9/4; Harps 9/4.
Wexford to return to form with a home win, 2-1.
Wexford Injury News: Doubts - Dean Broaders, CJ Browne, Shane Nolan.
Wexford Suspension News: None.
Finn Harps Injury News: Keith Cowan (ankle), Stephen O’Donnell (medial ligament). Doubt - Ciaran Coll (knee).
Finn Harps Suspension News: None.
Simon O'Gorman began reporting for Extratime in 2010. He remembers Milltown and Flower Lodge and, back in the mists of time, saw Diego Maradona play at Lansdowne Road. He now lives in Co Kildare and reports on Shamrock Rovers among others. Simon can be contacted at email@example.com