Bray Wanderers 2 (Salmon 29, Moore 80) Dundalk 1 (Horgan 12)
Premier division, Carlisle Grounds, 10 Aug 2016
Bray were full value for a scoreline few on either side would have expected on their way to the Carlisle Grounds this evening.
That Dundalk scored inside the opening quarter of an hour was perhaps less of a surprise than that they failed to increase their advantage before the interval – or that Bray equalised inside the first half.
Bray then came out with intent and though it took more than half an hour, their second goal, which turned out to be the final score of the night, was coming for most of that time.
Most surprising of all, perhaps, was the red card brandished by Neil Doyle in the final minute of time added, to the luckless Daryl Horgan, who had worked hard for the visitors with little reward.
The Lilywhites made most of the early running, despite Karl Moore and Ger Pender running as if they thought they were Usain Bolt.
In the early minutes, Peter Cherrie saved well from Robbie Benson who kicked acrobatically after good work up the right initially.
And a fine tackle by Dundalk skipper Stephen O’Donnell ended Dylan Connolly’s threatening run, with Pender in support wide on the right.
But there was no stopping the opening goal, Benson’s shot after a neat feed from David McMillan palmed away by Cherrie into the path of the onrushing Horgan, who could hardly miss from five metres.
The same combination came close to doubling the visitors’ lead five minutes later, Horgan taking McMillan’s ball through the trap and rounding Cherrie only to see his weak shot rebounding slowly off the butt of the far post.
Connolly was again looking like Gray’s biggest threat, ambitiously tapping forward but failing to beat Seán Gannon to the ball, but the probability remained that Dundalk would take the next strike.
Bray had Hugh Douglas to thank that Paddy Barrett’s header from a John Mountney corner failed to reach the net, and Cherrie for the punch that cleared another flag-kick, both inside the half hour.
There were some small signs that Dundalk weren’t entirely comfortable, Gary Rogers rushing 30 metres off his line to clear as Pender looked like splitting the centre of the visitors’ defence, and seconds later Connolly shooting just over with the keeper out of position. Karl Moore raced into the goal area but just missed Pender’s raking cross from the right.
And the officials showed no interest in fouls in rapid succession on Pender and Connolly.
On 37 minutes, Mark Salmon shot straight at Rogers, and a minute later a push on Connolly conceded a free 10m from the end line just wide of the area.
Kevin Lynch’s long dead ball was headed back across goal by Douglas and Salmon poked it in at the near post, helped a little by a deflection off Massey.
Dundalk seemed nonplussed by the equaliser, and though Bray seemed inclined to concede a little too much space to the visitors in midfield, their defence was solid.
After he break the home side appeared to have grown into their lead, despite Mountney shooting over early and Cherrie having to claim high when the attack were ping-ponging in the area.
Six minutes into the second period, Pender got well forward and cut back for Salmon, but the midfielder bounced his shot and Rogers had time to collect it.
At the far end, the defence hustled Horgan into a hasty effort which flew too high.
Moore was carded for a bad challenge on Horgan, Cherrie doing well to clasp the 30m free.
Referee Neil Doyle wasn’t happy when Bray tried to take a quick free in midfield, and when it was eventually taken, it ended with Douglas heading onto the roof of the Dundalk net.
On the hour, Tim Clancy under pressure conceded a corner, Horgan taking it and from there a Robbie Benson shot was deflected but even so failed to beat the Bray keeper.
After a short period of slightly desperate defence, Connolly’s momentum prevented him getting any real accuracy in his shot.
But play on both sides was a little aimless at that point, and Bray substitute Jason Marks seemed unlucky to be flagged offside by assistant referee Matthew Farrell as he fired the ball to Rogers’s net with jus twenty minutes to go.
Minutes later another high ball attack by Bray ended in the arms of Rogers, and John Sullivan shot narrowly left of target after good possession play by Connolly and a cutback by Pender.
In counter-attacking, Dane Massey was unable to keep the long ball in play at the end line, and a mistimed kick allowed Cherrie to grab the follow-up.
One more foul on Connolly drew a double response, a caution for former Seagull Massey, and a dead ball opportunity for Moore, who curled his shot delightfully into the corner of the Dundalk net.
If the visitors had been working to prevent the loss of a point up to now, they began to be desperate to rescue one at this stage.
A debatable offside against sub Ciarán Kilduff couldn’t stop them winning another corner, which ended up with a goal-kick, and Cherrie had to be at his best to claim Gannon’s cross in the air in time added.
The extra four minutes were to prove expensive for the visitors in other ways, too, as Morgan’s rash challenge on Connolly earned him a straight red card, which isn’t the way his birthday was supposed to end.
Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie; 2 Hugh Douglas, 4 Conor Kenna (c), 21 Tim Clancy (yc), 19 Kevin Lynch; 3 John Sullivan; 23 Gareth McDonagh, 10 Karl Moore (yc), 8 Mark Salmon (yc), 16 Dylan Connolly; 17 Gerard Pender
Subs: 11 Jason Marks (for McDonagh 62), 15 Alan Kehoe, 20 Paul Finnegan, 24 Seán Harding, 27 Christopher Lyons (for Pender 80), 30 Kieran Butler, 40 Lee Steacy (gk)
Dundalk: 1 Gary Rogers; 2 Sean Gannon (yc), 15 Patrick Barrett, 3 Brian Gartland, 4 Andrew Boyle, 14 Dane Massey (yc); 8 John Mountney, 5 Christopher Shields, 6 Stephen O’Donnell (c), 7 Daryl Horgan; 18 Robert Benson; 9 David McMillan
Subs: 12 Shane Grimes, 16 Ciarán Kilduff (for Benson 66), 17 George Poynton, 20 Ciarán O’Connor, 21 Darren Meenan (for Mountney 71), 22 Gabriel Sava (gk), 26 Michael O’Connor (for McMillan 82)
Referee: Neil Doyle
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