By Dave Donnelly
DLR Waves continued their unbeaten pre-season as they played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with Wexford Youths at the UCD Bowl on Sunday.
Second-half goals from subs Zoe Leonard and Carla McManus looked to have earned Graham Kelly’s side their second win in as many warm-up games.
However, a stunning strike from Ireland international Ellen Molloy four minutes from time, to add to her first-half opener, ensured the 2018 double-winners avoided defeat.
It was the clichéd ‘game of two halves’ in Belfield as a physical and experienced Wexford side dominated the first half and deservedly took the lead after 20 minutes.
Molloy had two bites of the cherry as she ran onto Ciara Rossiter’s cross-field pass only to see her initial shot blocked.
The rebound fell kindly for the Kilkenny native, however, and she dropped a shoulder before burying a low shot past Eve Badana from the edge of the box.
By that stage, Youths had already knocked on the Waves door a number of times, with Aoibheann Clancy testing the reflexes of Badana with a quick free kick within five minutes.
At the other end, Kiev Gray saved well from Kerri Letmon, while Lynn-Marie Grant had two excellent chances to put her side in front but she couldn’t find the target.
Grant, playing up front on her own, drew Badana into a save as she spun off Rossiter’s throw, while Clancy again forced the keeper into action as she tipped her shot around the post.
The tide began to turn early in the second half as Waves’ superior fitness began to tell and their bench made a real impact.
Leonard drew the sides level within five minutes of her introduction as she found space in the box and buried a shot past sub keeper Maeve Williams.
Five minutes later, the turnaround was complete as Nicole Keogh’s superb through ball from deep sent McManus clear and the striker calmly curled the ball past Williams into the bottom corner.
It was very nearly three moments later as another sub, Catherine Cronin, crossed for McManus but she couldn’t keep her effort down.
A poor Wexford clearance presented Cronin with a chance of her own on the edge of the box but she saw her volley fly over the goal.
And Rachel Doyle came within a whisker of sealing the win six minutes from time as she charged down a clearance and dinked the ball over Williams and just over the crossbar.
It was all Waves at this point as Cronin was the latest to pounce on a Wexford error before drawing a fine low stop from Williams.
With quality like Molloy on the pitch, missed chances can be costly, and the 17-year-old proved exactly that as she buried an unstoppable shot in the top corner four minutes from time.
“We’re not too worried about the results – the performance was key today,” Waves manager Graham Kelly told the Dublin Gazette.
“I thought the workrate from the girls was excellent – it was really top notch – and I think a draw was a fair result on the day.
“We started the game very slow and we kicked in after about half an hour. We were poor enough in that first half hour, but the second half was a big performance.”
PHOTO Caption: DLR Waves’ Fiona Donnelly and Wexford’s Aoibheann Clancy of Wexford. Picture: photos.alwynrobinson.com/