Bray Wanderers 4 (Brennan 49, Moore, 60, Martin og 66, Lewis 85), Sligo Rovers 0
Premier Division, Carlisle Grounds, 26 Mar 2016
Bray did a lot to restart their season, as the so-called new look team finally showed a little of their eventual capability against an under-performing Sligo Rovers.
Goals from Ryan Brennan, Karl Moore and Drew Lewis, together with an own goal by the unfortunate Liam Martin (whose slight glance hardly deflected Jason Marks’s corner-kick) will give the Seagulls’ goal difference a powerful boost.
Played in atrocious conditions, with intermittent heavy rain and gale gusts combining to prevent decent football for long spells, particularly in the first period, the wonder was that either side managed to string three passes together at all.
And with the home side suffering the loss of Mark Salmon to what seemed a significant injury within two minutes of the start, it was little wonder they didn’t begin to get their act together until the last ten minutes before the break.
But when they came out with purpose in the second half, their efforts were soon rewarded.
And despite their efforts, it was hard to see Sligo coming back after the second goal.
It was a Regan Donelon shot that Peter Cherrie had to turn around at the expense of a corner which led to the clash between Salmon and former Seagull Chris Lyons.
And the visitors pressed pretty continuously the next while, the Bray keeper and his defence team having to work hard to keep the danger at bay.
Just inside the quarter hour, Martin, with all the hard work done, could only lift the ball over the crossbar.
And soon after that, the home players were irritated by the first of a number of decisions that seemed curious, when they were penalised for a barely avoidable handball in the final stages of their first serious attack.
Minutes later, Dean Kelly shot over ineffectively as the players expected a sanction for a foul on Lewis. But soon afterwards, Lewis retained possession and spearheaded another attack, eventually shooting just left and offside.
He turned provider on the half hour, backheeling cleverly to Kelly who shot narrowly over.
The play seemed a little aimless for a time, Kelly’s foul attracting no free, as against Peers’s fall and a 50/50 challenge against Martin.
Five minutes to the break, a Murphy corner was met with a powerful header by Kelly, but just left of target.
Hugh Douglas headed well to clear a good cross by Kieran Sadlier and two further handballs were missed by the officials.
And Sadlier provided the final action in time added for the first period, volleying for Cherrie to get down smartly, and later taking a touch before shooting left of the goal.
Perhaps as a result of Mick Cooke’s half-time booster, Alan McNally went for gold within a minute of the restart, but swung and missed. He wasn’t the only one, as Bray re-started with considerable purpose, and their efforts were rewarded within five minutes.
Hugh Douglas’s long pass forward was taken down by McNally, and his initial cross was passed short further to Brennan to give him an easy finish.
Six minutes later, however, Cherrie had to block with his feet when Sadlier kept possession at the end-line and crossed.
And the home side made things seriously uncomfortable for Sligo with a fine finish just on the hour. Kelly was put through and laid off for Moore who jinked past a defender and fired home.
Two minutes after that, Cherrie punched clear a Craig Roddan free, and at the other end the second of two attacks sees Marks get behind the defence, but Sligo keeper Ciaran Nugent got down to claim at his toes.
A Lewis shot a minute later was touched over for a corner, from which – though Murphy’s kick looked seriously threatening on its own – Martin was unlucky enough to get a glance that confirmed it was goalbound.
There was a brief spell of end-to-end action involving particularly Martin, Douglas and both keepers, but a free taken by Sligo substitute Michael Leahy forced a reaction save from Cherrie that seemed like he knew little about it until it was all over.
With less than a quarter of an hour to go, a free taken by Raf Cretaro looked long, but bounced on the crossbar on its way out.
And it was inside the final five minutes that a Marks free deep in the Sligo right corner was tapped in by Lewis, who seemed to get a first touch on it before homing.
The Sligo players seemed to have an urgency about them they had lacked earlier after that, but it was way too late.
Cretaro was dispossessed when he slipped, and his attempt at recovery raised the offside flag.
A series of Sadlier corners featured in the final minutes, the first batted away by Cherrie, but a free out awarded in any case, the second ending in a scramble in front of the goal, and a goal-kick, and the final one awarded after the ball appeared to fly out on the full as Cherrie stretched, but cleared far enough for the final whistle to blow.
Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie; 2 Hugh Douglas, 5 Alan McNally (yc), 4 Conor Kenna (c), 3 Curtis Murphy; 10 Karl Moore, 8 Mark Salmon, 7 Ryan Brennan, 11 Jason Marks; 18 Andrew Lewis, 9 Dean Kelly
Subs: 6 Alan Byrne (for Salmon 6 inj), 15 Sean Noble, 17 Gerard Pender (for Kelly 80), 23 Gareth McDonagh (for Murphy 84), 24 Sean Harding, 50 Aaron Shanahan (gk)
Sligo Rovers: 16 Ciaran Nugent; 2 Olutobi Adebayo-Rowling, 44 Gavin Peers, 5 Tim Clancy, 3 Regan Donelon; 12 Jordan Richards, 8 Craig Roddan, 17 Jimmy Keohane; 11 Kieran Sadlier; 27 Liam Martin, 7 Chris Lyons
Subs: 1 Micheal Schlingermann (gk), 4 Michael Leahy (for Clancy 45), 9 Phil Roberts, 10 Raffaele Cretaro (for Lyons 62), 14 Gary Boylan, 18 John Russell (for Richards 73), 28 Jaanai Gordon
Referee: Sean Grant
Report by Micheal O’hUanachain