Bray Wanderers 2 (Pender 4, Sullivan 37) Bohemians 1 ((Buckley 81)
Premier Division, Carlisle Grounds, 30 Sep 2016
Bray’s remarkable end of season run continued with a tight enough result against Bohemians in the Carlisle Grounds.
Goals early and late in the first half gave the home side a cushion and the Gypsies a mountain to climb.
Ger Pender’s set a new club record for goals scored in consecutive premier division matches, five to date, eclipsing Colm Tresson’s previous mark of five in all competitions.
John Sullivan’s was his first since returning to the Carlisle Grounds.
Keith Buckley took advantage after a midfield error to reduce the deficit, but the Seagulls held out for the quarter hour playing time that remained.
The game had hardly settled from opening skirmishes when Kevin Lynch launched a long ball out of the Bray defence and Pender raced to reach it, chesting down before getting in behind his namesake and former Seagull, Bohemians skipper Derek, to flash a shot just out of the reach of Shane Supple into the far corner of the net.
The disastrous start stunned the visitors, whose composure took a good ten minutes to return.
In that time, Pender almost doubled the Bray tally, his powerful downward header from a Karl Moore corner in the 11th minute bouncing up to knock on the crossbar before flying over.
But soon enough Bohemians were making inroads into the Bray danger area, a Kurtis Byrne feed just before the quarter hour allowing another former Bray man, Jake Kelly, to shoot from a fairly tight angle across the face of Peter Cherrie’s goal and away.
Kelly was the only visible threat from the visitors for a time, taking to the ball to the end-line before his cutback lost possession, and then bundling it out through Cherrie’s grasp for a corner.
In between times, he had managed to be the first (but as we shall see, by no means the last) to go into referee Robert Hennessey’s book.
Midway through the half, Pender had a fine speculative effort following a brace of Bray corners, his shot curling nicely goalwards, and Supple had to make sure to prevent it.
From a Karl Moore ball up route one, Dylan Connolly, who was being tightly marked, managed to evade the defence and shot firmly to the target – but Supple’s feet got in the way and the ball was cleared by the defence.
Shortly before the half hour, Kelly’s cross found Byrne a little out of position, but he managed to turn and heel the ball toward the net, Cherrie plucking it out of the air just in time.
There was less than ten minutes left to the break when Cherrie got rid of a Lorcan Fitzgerald corner with a beefy punch, Jason Marks picking it up and firing up the right.
Connolly raced on to it, and when Derek Pender tackled him heavily, he got up and resumed possession, finding John Sullivan his only support having raced from his position in front of the Bray area.
The winger’s cross needed just a touch from Sullivan before he picked his spot and beat Supple with a low shot to the net.
Two minutes later, Connolly was again in possession but shouldered heavily off the ball and most unhappy that no sanction was forthcoming.
Bohemians’ Keith Buckley had a shot well wide of the target, but up to the break there was no sign of a Gypsies revival.
Kelly made way for Eoin Wearen before the resumption, and Connolly was the first to show, galloping goalwards until Supple raced wide to kick clear.
And the Bray winger tried a shot from distance that flew wide minutes later – it may even have been intended as a cross, but there was no-one there in any case.
A hard clash of heads between Hugh Douglas and Dean O’Halloran saw the Bray man come off worse, and his play began to show its effects a short while later, when he was found out of position for a foray forward by his sparring partner.
He was substituted ten minutes from the end, a rare incomplete game for the big defender.
Bohemians were now stringing passes together and looking a little more threatening, but even when gifted a free in a fairly central but somewhat distant position for a supposed handball by an irritated Sullivan, Byrne sent the ball way too high, much to his own dismay.
Just after the hour, Lynch’s free on the edge of the area following a foul on himself flew straight to Supple, and a flag-kick by Moore in the 70th minutes resulted in a free out.
The players were getting increasingly frustrated, upset by what seemed inconsistent rulings by the officials as well as the progress of the game, and when Conor Kenna went down under the challenge of Bohs substitute Mark Quigley, who then appeared to step on him, the atmosphere thickened even more.
Then Byrne went in the book, apparently for simulation, when he had clearly been fouled by Douglas.
After a bit of dangerous looking possession by the visitors, Harding had to take Douglas’s place, and was barely settling in when he lost possession to Byrne, who spotted an opportunity and fed the waiting Buckley, who made no mistake with a low shot that beat Cherrie.
Both sides had to knuckle down now, Bohemians in search of an equaliser, and Bray to defend their remaining advantage. And with tension rising, cautions became inevitable.
Bray sub Darragh Noone shot straight into Supple’s grateful arms, and at the end of normal time, Tim Clancy went into the book for a foul on Byrne. Cherrie made sure of his grip on Derek Prendergast’s free at the second attempt.
It seemed to be a late and possibly dangerous two-footed lunge by Pender on Connolly that initiated the schemozzle that marred the time added, leading to a total of four more cards, though they didn’t seem adequately to address the indiscipline.
Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie; 2 Hugh Douglas, 21 Tim Clancy (yc), 4 Conor Kenna (c), 19 Kevin Lynch; 3 John Sullivan; 11 Jason Marks, 8 Mark Salmon (yc), 10 Karl Moore (yc), 16 Dylan Connolly; 17 Gerard Pender
Subs: 5 Alan McNally, 15 Alan Kehoe, 18 Andrew Lewis (for Pender 70, yc), 22 Darragh Noone (for Marks 67), 24 Sean Harding (for Douglas 79 inj), 27 Chris Lyons, 40 Lee Stacey (gk)
Bohemians: 30 Shane Supple; 2 Derek Pender (yc), 5 Derek Prendergast, 18 Ian Morris, 3 Lorcan Fitzgerald; 4 Roberto Lopes (yc); 14 Patrick Kavanagh (yc), 8 Keith Buckley, 11 Jake Kelly; 16 Dean O’Halloran, 10 Kurtis Byrne (yc)
Subs: 1 Dean Delaney (gk), 6 Dan Byrne, 7 Eoin Wearen (for Kelly H/T), 9 Mark Quigley (for O’Halloran 67, yc), 12 Stephen Best, 21 Dylan Hayes
Referee: Robert Hennessey
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