Bray Wanderers 2 (Connolly 17, 70) Derry City 2 (Patterson 31, McEneff 55 pan)
Premier division, Carlisle Grounds, 27 Aug 2016
A share of the spoils was ultimately a fair outcome at the end of a highly entertaining encounter at the Carlisle Grounds tonight.
Both sides were going for the full points, and there was no time for hostages. Referee Sean Grant was lenient in the early stages, but eventually awarded five cautions, and a couple of players were on further verbal warnings by the end.
The speedy Dylan Connolly put Bray ahead just after the quarter hour but Rory Patterson levelled matters well before the break.
Dylan Connolly breaks free from Niclas Vemmelund
Ten minutes into the second period, a debatable penalty was converted by Aaron McEneff and Connolly restored equality with twenty minutes left.
Hugh Douglas might be the biggest casualty of the encounter, the big Bray defender clashing with Niclas Vemmerlund as early as the third minute – and that wasn’t the end of his physical conflicts.
Ger Pender won Bray’s first corner nine minutes in after good work by Seán Harding, but following Karl Moore’s flag-kick, John Sullivan eventually put out across the face of the goal with no Bray attacker close enough.
Peter Cherrie was called into action nine minutes in, when Patterson received a cross from Nathan Boyle from a Barry McNamee ball.
After pingpong from a second Bray corner, Mark Salmon eventually found Ger Doherty’s gloves.
A Pender shot was deflected into Doherty’s arms on the quarter hour, and within a minute or so Connolly outpaced Max Karner to a Jason Marks ball that seemed well beyond his reach, and rightfooted into the far corner of Doherty’s net.
For the next ten minutes or so, Bray appreared to have dominance in the contest, culminating after a brace of corners in a fresh Connolly volley from a Kevin Lynch cross just inches above the bar.
Patterson shot left of target under the wall with a 25m free before Connolly launched another solo effort without success.
When Moore was carded for his challenge on McEneff Barry McNamee rolled the ball for McEneff to shoot, the crossbar returning the ball to where Patterson had little problem putting it beyond the Bray keeper.
And despite vigorous play, and a series of unsanctioned fouls on both sides, the score remained level at the break.
The Seagulls were on the attack early in the second half, Douglas volleying wide from a John Sullivan free.
Peter Cherrie was busy clearing crosses from his left for a time, though Kevin Lynch provided a great block when Derry work up their left robbed Bray of possession and posed a threat.
Bray substitute Gareth McDonagh was judged to have been at fault for a foul worthy of a penalty, though he wasn’t the last defender, and Ronan Curtis had lost control of Dean Jarvis’s free ahead of the challenge.
McEneff stepped up and sent Cherrie the wrong way, planting the ball in the top right of the net.
Over the next quarter hour, Seagulls sub Darragh Noone shot over and Ger Doherty had to make a good stop from Connolly while a slashing shot from McEneff was touched away by Cherrie, and McNamee’s ensuing corner was part cleared and eventually put out for a goal-kick.
But nothing, it seemed, could stop Connolly adding to his total. A fast new attack up the Bray left saw him receive from Pender and shoot low at the target, and Doherty, though he got a touch to it, couldn’t prevent it finding the net.
In the immediate aftermath, another Bray attack looked threatening enough to produce a winner, but eventually fizzled out for a goal-kick.
with a quarter hour to go, Cherrie and Douglas clashed in defending a Derry corner sent in by McNamee and back across the area by Patterson, the Bray defender seeming to have the worse of their encounter.
The respective attacks by both sides in the remaining minutes seemed a little aimless, though a card for Bray sub Chris Lyons for simulation when there was clear evidence of contact was a little harsh as opposed to the penalty which seemed at least debatable.
And in the dying minutes yet another Connolly 100m dash produced a brave dive by Doherty to clear from his toe.
Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie; 24 Seán Harding, 2 Hugh Douglas, 4 Conor Kenna (c), 19 Kevin Lynch; 3 John Sullivan (yc); 16 Dylan Connolly, 8 Mark Salmon, 10 Karl Moore (yc), 11 Jason Marks; 17 Gerard Pender
Subs: 5 Alan McNally, 15 Alan Kehoe, 20 Paul Finnegan, 22 Darragh Noone (for Marks 63), 23 Gareth McDonagh (for Harding 39, yc), 27 Chris Lyons (for Pender 84, yc), 40 Lee Stacey (gk)
Derry City: 1 Gerard Doherty (c); 25 Conor McDermott (yc), 33 Maximilian Karner, 2 Niclas Vemmelund, 3 Dean Jarvis; 6 Conor McCormack, 4 Aaron McEneff; 16 Nathan Boyle, 7 Barry McNamee, 27 Ronan Curtis; 11 Rory Patterson
Subs: 8 Harry Monaghan, 10 Keith Ward, 12 Joshua Daniels (for Boyle 72), 20 Shaun Patton (gk), 21 Cristian Castells, 23 Ben Doherty (for Karner 48 inj), 26 Rory Holden
Referee: Sean Grant
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