Match Report: Clontarf 0 - 2 Wicklow on 9th Feb 2013

For the first time this season, the Wicklow Men's team travelled to Mount Temple Comprehensive to play Contarf. Wicklow sitting at the top of the table and 6 points clear, knew they had to be on top form to get a result. Things did not start off well when (despite providing directions to the team captain) two of the squad (who shall remain anonymous) managed to not follow their own directions and only arrived pitch side 5 minutes before tip off.

Wicklow lined up with just two changes from the starting 11 from the North Kildare game. Dave slotting in at left back and Andy at right back, Trevor came through a late fitness test (actually finding Malahide Road!!) to resume at centre back. Peter Thompson kindly taking up the mantle of away referee once again.

Clontarf started off the game with two men upfront and four across the middlle, Wicklow fielding the standard 4-3-3 formation. The first few minutes saw both sides battling for posession in the middle of the field with neither side really controlling the play. Wicklow's best efforts coming from probing up the right side but with no real breakthroughs occuring.

Clontarf's four man midfield were proving hard to break down while posing a real counter attacking threat, managing to get in behind Wicklow's midfield on a couple of occasions. Wicklow's defense coped well though and found some success playing the ball around the back to the left back position linking up with Nick on the left wing. It was from one of these moves that the first goal came, with Nick beating his opponent and advancing along the end line passing the ball to Barry. Barry with his back to goal executed a trademark turn and fired a shot knee high from a tight angle which slipped inbetween the Keeper's pads and near post putting the visitors into the lead.

Clontarf immediately picked up the pace, a Wicklow attack breaking down and finding some space in behind our midfield quickly moving the ball out to the right side. Clontarf's right mid firing a ball towards the circle with several players missing the ball until it hit THE FOOT in the circle giving Clontarf their first penalty corner. Having come on for Andy at right back Eamonn showed a great turn of pace to get out to block the initial shock and clear the danger. The rest of the half played out without many further chances for either side with Wicklow edging the possession stats.

Wicklow tipped off the second half determined to up the work rate, concentrate on short quick passes and to try and expose Clontarf down the flanks. The hallf time team talk was effective as Wicklow started getting Nick Harris on the ball more often enabling him to pivot and switch play to either side. Eoin received the ball wide right on a couple of occasions but never really managing to outwit his marker. Once again the left side showed more promise with Connor (on for Dave Curran), Steve and Nick combining well leading to some good balls flying past the far post unfortunately no one was near enough to tap them in.

Clontarf were no means out of it and continued to put pressure on the midfield, Forbes and Trevors scrambling defence making some timely tackles to break play up. When Clontarf did enter the circle there was little room to get a shot off with the most notable action required of Colley was blocking the ball over the end line from a wide drive.

Midway through the second half Wicklow doubled their lead, Eoin finding himself in a bit of space and for the first time in the game getting the better of his opposite number. Driving into the circle he flicked the ball goalwards the keeper saving it initially, but he latched onto the rebound and pushign the ball against the backboard.

The final 15 minutes of the game saw saw Clontarf press forward trying to get that elusive goal to bring them back into the match. A penalty corner awarded in the Wicklow circle saw the ball fired towards the corner of the goal at speed, but Trevor was up to it sweeping it out over the side line. After that no real chances of note fell to either side until the final whistle went with Wicklow celebrating their tenth league win this season.

On balance Wicklow had the better of the play and at times during the second half played some neat quick passes which had been missing in the previous game. Certainly the team will need to up the performances level next week for a key game, against second in the table Three Rock.