WEXFORD YOUTHS 1, DERRY CITY 3
FIVE times FAI Cup champions, Derry City avoided a shock exit as they came from behind against Wexford Youths at Ferrycarrig Park to book their place in the semi-finals of this season’s competition.
Eric Molloy had stunned the visitors when he sent his shot past Gerard Doherty after six minutes but City’s leading goalscorer, Rory Patterson equalised on the stroke of half-time.
And on 66 minutes Lucas Schubert was well placed to slot the ball past Graham Doyle from close range at the second attempt before Barry McNamee’s fifth goal of the season sent the ‘Candy Stripes’ into the last four to keep alive hopes of an 11th FAI Cup Final appearance.
Kenny Shiels made just one change from the team which drew 0-0 at home to Galway United last weekend with Patrick McClean replaced by Ben Doherty at right back while Niclas Vemmelund and Dean Jarvis kept their places at the heart of the Derry defence in the absence of the injured Aaron Barry and skipper, Ryan McBride.
Meanwhile, midfielder, Schubert, who was struggling with a knee injury, passed a late fitness test and retained his place in the starting line-up as the Candy Stripes attempted to continue their impressive record on the road.
Derry went into the quarter-final tie boasting a hugely impressive record on the road having lost just twice in all competitions this season.
However, Wexford - 5/1 outsiders to progress - obviously didn’t read the script and in the incessant rain and blustery conditions the hosts stunned their visitors when Paul Murphy found Molloy who clinically found the net after just six minutes. And given Shane Keegan’s men dumped Sligo Rovers out in the previous round Derry fans will have feared the worst.
Intent on sitting back and protecting their slender advantage, Wexford invited Derry on and the Foylesiders enjoyed a period of sustained pressure without really testing goalkeeper, Graham Doyle.
That was until Schubert tested the Wexford keeper’s reflexes on 22 minutes but Doyle turned the Austrian’s strike past the post at full stretch.
Wexford were proving dangerous from long throw-ins but they found themselves camped in their own half and in the final minute of the first half the pressure took its toll.
Indeed, McDermott did well to skip past his man before finding Patterson who showed great strength to out-muscle his marker and his snap-shot deflected past Doyle and nestled into the net - the Strabane man’s 14th goal of the season!
It was a timely intervention from the club’s leading striker and it proved the last action of the opening 45 minutes and it was no more than the ‘Candy Stripes’ deserved.
It was Wexford who started brightest after the restart and they really should’ve scored after 20 seconds but Murphy somehow sent his powerful header over the crossbar as the Derry defence were caught napping.
Derry responded but Doyle was in inspired form, producing three saves in quick succession. Firstly the Wexford stopper was alert to the danger when Patterson broke clear and he closed down the angle to save.
Moments later Doyle beat away McDermott’s stinging long range strike before producing a great reaction save to block Barry Namee’s downward volley from eight yards.
Man of the match, Aaron McEneff’s terrific free-kick bounced back off the post and Schubert was quickest to react. While his initial effort was saved by Doyle, the 26 year-old Austrian was perfectly placed to slot home the rebound at the second time of asking - his third goal of the campaign.
Molloy could quite easily have equalised with 17 minutes to go but he sent his right footed strike narrowly over the crossbar.
McNamee then ensured Derry’s passage into the last four when he added a decisive third with five minutes remaining as City marched into their second cup semi-final of the season and they’re now just 90 minutes from an Aviva Stadium decider.
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Craig McCabe, Gary Delaney, Lee Grace, Aidan Friel; Eric Molloy, Chris Kenny (Peter Higgins 82), Shane Dunne (Andy Mulligan 73), John Bonner, Aidan Keenan; Paul Murphy; Subs Not Used - Danny Furlong, Stephen Last, Andrew O’Connor, Eoin Porter, Gavin Dowling.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Conor McDermott, Niclas Vemmelund, Dean Jarvis, Ben Doherty; Aaron McEneff (Keith Ward 89), Conor McDermott, Lucas Schubert (Nathan Boyle 89), Barry McNamee, Ronan Curtis (Josh Daniels 64); Rory Patterson; Subs Not Used - Shaun Patton, Harry Monaghan,Cristian Castells, Patrick McClean.
Referee - Anthony Buttimer (Cork).