03 Oct 2022

Late penalty saves Dundalk as Lilywhites narrowly overcome Wexford in extra time

Late penalty saves Dundalk as Lilywhites narrowly overcome Wexford in extra time

Robbie Benson of Dundalk, left, celebrates with his teammates after scoring their side's third goal, a penalty. (Pic: Sportsfile) FAI Cup Round 2

Wexford 2-3 Dundalk

Robbie Benson’s extra-time penalty got Dundalk FC out of jail as they laboured past First Division side Wexford in the second round of the FAI Cup at Ferrycarrig Park.

In normal time, David McMillan gave The Lilywhites a half-time lead they hardly deserved, but goals from Luka Lovic and Ger Shortt had put Wexford in front, and they looked like they were heading for a famous win until Ryan O’Kane kept Dundalk alive. 

That piece of individual brilliance from O’Kane proved crucial; for the visitors then went on to win the tie in extra-time through Benson’s decisive spot-kick on 110 minutes.

With Monday night’s league fixture at Sligo Rovers in mind, Stephen O’Donnell shuffled his pack, making five changes from the 3-0 defeat at Shamrock Rovers last Sunday.

Dundalk’s produced the game’s first shot at goal, but Runar Hauge’s tame attempt never looked like troubling Wexford goalkeeper Alex Moody, and he gathered at his near post.

Wexford started brightly and almost took the lead when the menacing Conor Crowley dispossessed Robbie McCourt before Shortt forced Nathan Shepperd into a good save.

The First Division side looked up for it, and not long after that, Shortt hooked just over.

However, it was Dundalk that took the lead against the run of play on 38 minutes through McMillan, who finished after Steven Bradley’s shot was parried by Moody.

Wexford didn’t give up the chase, however, and they should have levelled in first-half stoppage-time when Shortt controlled brilliantly, but Shepperd again saved brilliantly.

The hosts kept pushing for what would have been a deserved leveller, and ten minutes into the second half, a Shortt cross was met by Adam Wells and saved by Shepperd.

They got the equaliser their efforts warranted on 56 minutes when a through ball set Lovic through on goal and he confidently slid the ball under Shepperd to make it 1-1.

Ian Ryan’s side almost went ahead when a Crowley cross from the right was met by the head of the excellent Shortt, forcing Shepperd into what was yet another crucial stop.

Ferrycarrig erupted on 66 minutes as Wexford took the lead when Lovic set Shortt on his way, and he beat the advancing Shepperd, and a major shock was now on the cards.

O’Donnell made a triple-substitution and one of those, O’Kane, scored an excellent individual goal, his first for Dundalk, to level matters once again on 73 minutes.

The Lilywhites, seemingly out of jail, almost won it late on when a Benson set-piece delivery, via the head of McCourt, was somehow kept out at point-blank range by Moody.

Extra-time provided little in the way of chances at either end, and the game looked to be heading for penalties until Wexford captain Joe Manley tripped John Martin in the box.

With just ten minutes of extra-time remaining, up stepped the experienced Benson to convert and send Dundalk into the quarter-final stage for the twelfth consecutive year.

Wexford: Alex Moody; Paul Cleary (Aaron Dobbs 74), Joe Manley, Jordan Tallon, Len O’Sullivan; Conor Crowley (Mitchell Byrne 102), Eoin Farrell, Luka Lovic, Harry Groome (Dinny Corcoran 109), Adam Wells (Conor Davis 74); Ger Shortt (Thomas Considine 87)

Subs not used: Shay O’Leary (gk), Aidan Friel, Evan Farrell, Lorcan Fitzgerald

Dundalk FC: Nathan Shepperd; Lewis Macari, Sam Bone, Andy Boyle, Robbie McCourt (John Mountney 92); Greg Sloggett, Joe Adams (Ryan O’Kane 61); Steven Bradley, Keith Ward (Robbie Benson 61), Runar Hauge (Alfie Lewis 61); David McMillan (John Martin 83)

Subs not used: Peter Cherrie (gk), Mark Byrne (gk), Brian Gartland

Referee: Adriano Reale (Kildare)

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