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Passage v Wilton 29.11.03

Passage v Wilton 29.11.03
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Passage 2 Wilton United 1

Wilton United were on the verge of causing a big shock in the Lucozade Sport Munster Junior Cup at Rockenham. They were leading Passage with six minutes to go but lost their defensive nerve, conceded an equaliser and, in injury time, a soft winner.

This was the proverbial game of two halves. First division Wilton dominated the first half, though not to the extent that Passage dominated the second. Still, it looked as if the city side would hold out until that late collapse.

Wilton started well and, though hit by an early injury to  midfielder Fergal Kelleher, had the better of exchanges until the break. Pat Bowdren's visitors looked very comfortable on the ball and their passing was top class.

But they had just the one goal to show for it. It could well have been two. In the 21st minute, Mark Ryan raced in from the right to connect with a Phil Haly cross from the left but his header crashed back off the bar.

Better luck for Wilton in the 28th minute. Ryan forced a corner and took it himself. Passage failed to get it away and were severely punished by Wilton skipper Brian Murphy who rammed the loose ball in from close range.

Wilton, despite majority possession, weren't creating that many chances and that was mirrored during Passage’s dominance of the second half.

Wilton rarely got out of their half in the second period. But, despite the pressure, their defence looked comfortable enough though keeper Dooley had to react well to a power packed shot by Derek O’Brien after a super long throw-in by Chris McSweeney.

McSweeney and sub Simon McGarry continued to pressure the Wilton defence before it finally cracked with six minutes to go. McSweeney headed a free back across the goal and, after a challenge by John Carroll, skipper James O'Leary forced the ball over the line.

Wilton’s nerves were now on edge but extra time looked on the cards when there was no Passage player to connect with an inviting low cross by McGarry that sped across the six yard box. Wilton cleared but the ball was quickly returned by John Gaffney and his long effort somehow got in to provide an easy winner to a hard fought game. 

“Like an old fashioned junior game,” said one contented observer.