Cobh Ramblers had to do it the hard way when overcoming Wexford FC in a mammoth penalty shoot-out in the first round of the EA Sports Cup in Ferrycarrig Park on Tuesday evening. After a scoreless 120 minutes of football and 18 penalties, the visitorCobh Ramblers had to do it the hard way when overcoming Wexford FC in a mammoth penalty shoot-out in the first round of the EA Sports Cup in Ferrycarrig Park on Tuesday evening. After a scoreless 120 minutes of football and 18 penalties, the visitors eventually came out on top 8-7 on spot-kicks and, despite not being at their best, Cobh assistant manager Stuart Ashton was delighted with the application his side showed to go through. “Both teams probably failed to play to their potential. It was a scrappy game for the neutral and frustrating for the two managers, speaking for Damian (Locke) as well as myself. It wasn't the best of games and chances were at a premium,” he said. While stressing that it was a real team effort that got them over the line, Ashton did reserve special praise for goalkeeper Paul Hunt, who pulled off two saves in the shoot-out, before Ben O'Riordan fired home the winning penalty. “We've ground out a result when not playing as well as we can play. The goalkeeper kept us in the game at times and a penalty shoot-out is always a lottery and about holding your nerve and Hunty has done it again. He's been brilliant for us in the last few seasons, one of the stars of our team and he's shown his worth again tonight,” he said. After drawing with Longford Town and garnering three points against Cabinteely on the road in their opening two fixtures, Ashton is pleased with the start made by Ramblers, although admits they've got plenty to work on. “We're delighted with the start to the season. We're looking forward to a home game now. We got a great result in Longford, to draw 2-2 after being 2-0 down before half-time. That showed the character that's in the team. Last week we showed that character again, without playing too well. In the last 15 minutes especially it was backs to the wall, but we showed our will to win. At the minute we're not playing as well as we want to play but we're getting the results, so it's a starting block for us, so hopefully we can build on that and improve on it, which we know we can,” he said. Cobh Ramblers were First Division runners-up last season, but were always playing catch-up against runaway winners Waterford United, and the reintroduction of the play-offs has certainly increased their hopes of promotion this time around. “It was disappointing for us to get no reward last season, but having said that we knew from the start what the situation was and we have no qualms with that. This year the play-offs are back and for want of a better word, it's fairer for everyone. It keeps it interesting for the middle section of the league, where they've still got a chance of getting fourth spot. It's wide open for everyone and I don't think any team is going to run away with it. Teams are going to take points from one another, so it's about staying in and around that group at the top until it comes to the crunch at the end and hopefully we're in the mix,” he said.
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