Bray Wanderers 0 Longford Town 0
Premier Division, Carlisle Grounds, 03 Jun 2016
Longford survived a late Wanderers blitz to take a point back home with them.
When you’re at the bottom of the table, a point is a point wherever you can get one.
But if there’s one place you’d rather not get a single point, it’s from a fellow struggler. You really want three from them.
Bray failed tonight to take advantage of what was clearly an out-of-sorts Longford side.
Even before the visitors lost Jamie Mulhall to Kevin O’Regan’s fourth caution of the night (and there were four more yellows still to come), they didn’t seem to be heading for a loss.
And in the remaining half hour, try as they might, Bray couldn’t find a way through a stubborn defence.
It was a match that lacked nothing bar goals. Starting with early Longford attacks, the yellow card for Mulhall’s first tackle on Dylan Connolly gave the home side an opening, with Ryan Brennan’s dead-ball yielding a corner for Karl Moore, but Pat Flynn was able to clear.
Connolly served up a fine cross to no-one, and then himself just failed to connect with a Seán Harding long ball, Longford goalie Paul Skinner getting there first.
Then Drew Lewis knocked another long Harding one down for Ger Pender who held it before feeding Connolly, but after the latter broke into the area he curled his effort narrowly over.
And again Connolly, who headed out of the Bray half and reached the visitors’ area before Mark Rossiter tackled him at the cost of a corner, and another followed when Lewis was passing for a well-placed Pender.
All that inside the first quarter of an hour, both teams sensing a need to gain the points.
Longford managed a couple of attacks just inside the twenty minute mark, Alan McNally dispossessing Lee Duffy after a Philip Gannon pass, and blocking a shot by former Seagull Kevin O’Connor, with Peter Cherrie needing assistance before Rhys Gorman’s effort from O’Connor’s corner was eventually cleared.
Duffy volleyed a Kaleem Simon cross into the Bray area, but skipper Conor Kenna blocked O’Connor’s ensuing shot.
Midway through, Pender gained possession and began an attack that reached Robbie Creevy who lost the ball before pulling the trigger, and Cherrie cleared the counter-attack.
Minutes later, Bray came even closer, when Harding’s pass out to Karl Moore led to Hugh Douglas crossing into the area where Pender stepped over, to allow Lewis shoot, but into Skinner’s legs. Connolly chased the loose ball but Mulhall challenged him before clearing.
Bracketing the half-hour, David O’Sullivan’s effort was met by McNally, and the Longford targetman’s next chance, a header from a cross by Simon, was well held by Cherrie.
Then a Connolly run cross-field ended with a spread for Moore who crossed for Lewis, the striker’s header deflected off a defender to the post for a croner from which Douglas misheaded.
And the same player miskicked at the end of another attack a few minutes after that, when Moore and Lewis combined to send him up the left.
Soon after, Brennan broke forward and a slip by Mulhall allowed Connolly to take a shot, Skinner’s legs in the way once more.
With barely three minutes to go to the break, Connolly again tested Skinner, who this time turned the ball out for a corner, and Bray got two chances from the set-piece, the ball eventually flying over the bar.
O’Connor was lively for the Town just before the whistle, winning a corner off Creevy and bringing the Bray keeper into play with an inswinging flag-kick, but Bray were on the attack at the end as Lewis challenged Rossiter and Flynn on his way to a flick that ended in Skinner’s hands.
It was O’Connor on song again at the start of the second period, and a dangerous-looking free ensued five minutes in on the edge of the area, but Simon’s ball flew home to Cherrie.
End-to-end, Moore and Brennan harried out of possession in the Longford area, then Kenna won a goal-kick off Duffy after Philip Gannon put the striker in.
Pender and Lewis looked good in attack, the former pouncing on the ball when Harding was tackled out of possession, and the latter harrying the Town defence at the clearance.
Just before the hour, after another brace of line-to-line chases, Douglas intervened to block another effort by O’Sullivan.
Then with another heavy challenge on Connolly, Mulhall earned himself a second caution from the Referee.
The first consequential action saw Lewis and Pender combine, with a ball to Skinner’s custody the result. But it was by no means obvious that the loss of Mulhall would mean the loss of the match.
In fact, a run by Simon pressed Douglas hard, but the Bray man managed to put in the tackle eventually. And the see-sawing play continued, Longford sub Peter McGlynn (another Carlisle past pupil) stopping Connolly, and Brennan finding Skinner with a volley before O’Connor’s free gave the visitors a corner, and McNally did well to clear as Flynn raced forward.
Cherrie produced a fine save at the end of a third Town attack in a row with a quarter of an hour to go.
Referee O’Regan decided Connolly’s next fall was simulated rather than caused, and produced his eighth yellow of the evening.
The next few minutes belonged to Bray as Skinner intercepted a well-judged cross from substitute Jason Marks, Creevy fired high from a Lewis lay-off and then lost the ball to a foul by Gorman, Douglas shooting just off target with the free.
With five minutes of normal time remaining, Brennan fired a bullet from a Connolly feed, but Skinner stopped and then claimed.
A Moore free resulted in a Bray corner, but Simon cleared when the ball fell loose in the goal area. Both Douglas and Moore fed the area with good-looking balls, but the defence seemed to be everywhere.
In time added, Brennan lined up a free, but the set-piece fell foul of the offside flag, and visitors’ sub Josh O’Hanlon had the last serious chance of the game, which he mishit badly.
Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie; 2 Hugh Douglas, 5 Alan McNally (yc), 4 Conor Kenna (c), 24 Seán Harding (yc); 7 Ryan Brennan (yc), 16 Dylan Connolly (yc), 21 Robert Creevy, 10 Karl Moore; 17 Gerard Pender, 18 Andrew Lewis
Subs: 6 Alan Byrne, 8 Mark Salmon, 9 Dean Kelly (for Pender 74), 11 Jason Marks (for Harding 74), 22 Darragh Noone, 23 Gareth McDonagh, 50 Aaron Shanahan
Longford Town: 1 Paul Skinner; 2 James Mulhall, 20 Patrick Flynn (yc), 22 Mark Rossiter, 24 Rhys Gorman, 3 Conor Powell (c, yc); 21 Philip Gannon, 11 Kevin O’Connor; 19 Kaleem Simon; 15 David O’Sullivan, 16 Lee Duffy
Subs: 5 Daniel O’Reilly, 6 Mark Hughes, 7 Kealan Dillon, 8 Peter McGlynn (for Rossiter 62), 9 Don Cowan, 10 Josh O’Hanlon (for Duffy 74), 18 Ian Molloy
Referee: Kevin O’Regan
Compiled by Micheal O’hUanachain