SSE Airtricity League First Division
Longford Town FC v Wexford FC
City Calling Stadium
Saturday 10th March 2018 | Kick-off: 7.30pm
Article by Kieran Burke - @KieranBTS/@BetweenStripes
Surprise winners on the opening day away to many peoples fancies as a dark horse this season, Cabinteely, Damien Locke’s Wexford FC could prove to be surprise packages in their own right after an underwhelming 2017 season.
With much upheaval both on and off the pitch at Ferrycarrig last season, little was expected of Wexford FC, who were taking part in their first ever League of Ireland season, replacing Wexford Youths, who ceased to exist following relegation from the top flight in 2016.
Losing the likes of Danny Furlong and Graham Doyle, two of the most experienced and highly rated players in their respective positions, new boss Damien Locke was always likely to opt for a young playing squad given the lack of financial power Wexford FC could muster compared to the divisions more established sides.
Only winning on four occasions in the league last season, the South-East club’s humiliating FAI Cup exit to non-league Crumlin United compounded Wexford’s misery. However, a positive run of form towards the tail-end of 2017 offered fresh hope, mainly thanks to the arrival of a number of clearly talented youngsters in Aaron Dobbs, Dean Kelly and Danny Bolger.
Having secured the services of striker, Dobbs on a full-season loan this time around, much more is expected of the player and his Wexford FC team-mates, despite the fact the 2018 First Division is being touted as the most competitive in League of Ireland history.
With a strong pre-season under their belts, which included an impressive 3-0 win over Bray Wanderers at the Carlise Grounds, the positives vibes felt towards the end of last year have carried on and been multiplied by the dozen thanks to that opening day win over Cabinteely.
Sean Hurley bagged his first ever League of Ireland goal to seal the 1-0 triumph in the Capital a fortnight ago and the former Bray Wanderers and Waterford United youngster will have to be marshaled closely with the midfielders confidence at an all-time high, thanks to not only that match winner but a strong college football campaign during the off-season.
Elsewhere, the threat posed by Shamrock Rovers loanee and Wexford native, Aaron Dobbs should not be underestimated by Neale Fenn’s side. The pacey striker offers powerful running in behind the defensive line, while the number nine is also very strong in the air despite his diminutive stature.
Longford Town will be looking to call on the experience of last seasons 5-0 win at this very ground over Wexford, but as ever expect the visitors to set up quite deep and look to frustrate their Midland opponents.
While Damien Locke’s men did lose three of the four head to head meetings with Longford last season, Wexford FC did manage to record a scoreless draw in the very first league meeting of 2017 and the South-East club will look to approach this latest meeting in similar fashion.
Another quick start, as seen in the opening game against Cobh Ramblers, would be very useful for tonight’s hosts, however, patience may prove key given the visitors potentially defensive set-up and Town manager, Neale Fenn is sure to stress that to his players before the walk out onto the hallowed City Calling Stadium turf.
Enjoy the game!