Bray Wanderers 1 (Kenna 32), Finn Harps 0
Premier Division, Carlisle Grounds, 16 Jul 2016
Bray were full value for the three points against a disappointing Finn Harps at Carlisle Grounds.
Seagulls captain Conor Kenna headed home after 32 minutes, and keeper Peter Cherrie held out to set a new club record of five consecutive League clean sheets.
The win moves the Wicklow side to eight points above basement club Longford, and also within six points of Bohemians, above them.
Although the visitors gained a corner within seconds of kicking off, it was Bray’s John Sullivan who had the first chance of scoring, skimming the net with a dipping shot from 25m three minutes in.
And Dylan Connolly presently started his campaign up the left with a fine cross to space, and a second within a minute, this time a pull back to Drew Lewis who was bizarrely flagged offside.
Three minutes later, Connolly was in action again, receiving the ball from debutant Darragh Noone, who made an impressive start for the Seagulls.
Connolly then beat the trap and fired inches right of the post.
Lewis then chased a long ball from Kevin Lynch and fired to the only spot where Richard Brush, stranded on the ground, could have saved it – into his lap.
The Bray faithful were calling for a handball just after the quarter hour, but in truth the Harps player couldn’t have avoided the ball.
A Bray corner led to a foul on Ryan Brennan which should have attracted a spot-kick, but referee Rob Hennessy missed it, looking as he was to see if assistant Dermot Broughton was going to flag Bray offside (he wasn’t).
On twenty minutes, Cherrie dived full-length to prevent a corner, while his counterpart was kept busy claiming crosses from from Hugh Douglas.
Moving towards a half hour played, Keith Cowan obstructed Connolly, following which Karl Moore was fouled in the area, neither event attracting sanction.
Just after Cherrie claimed a promising Josh Mailey cross, Bray gained a corner at the other end, and from Moore’s flag-kick, Kenna rose unmarked to head firmly into the roof of the Harps net.
Minutes later, Douglas won another corner, Brush fisting Moore’s effort away, and with the break nearing former Bray man Adam Hanlon, who was threatening for the visitors throughout, had their first effort on target, but failed to trouble Cherrie.
Bray might have been three ahead at the interval, but the single goal was all they had to show for a solid domination of the opening 45 minutes.
The second period was sluggish to get going, Kevin McHugh having made way for Ruairí Keating at the break.
Eight minutes in, Moore squandered another free, firing way past the crowded area, and minutes later Connolly seemed to have been interfered with in the Harps area in a manner that should have been sanctioned – either with a spot-kick or a caution for simulation – but play was waved on.
Just after the hour, the visitors had another opportunity to re-establish equality when Packie Mailey’s pass was assisted towards Keating with a slight deflection, but the substitute skied the ball with Cherrie out of position.
Harps were certainly improved in the second half, but still failing to convince, while there was lamost a feeling that Bray would be happy to keep the scoreline as it was.
With just over a quarter of an hour left, another Harps sub, Raymond Foy, fired over after Ethan Boyle’s long ball had been missed by Keating when he slipped.
the home side escaped what could have been a killer blow when Tim Clancy, who had been otherwise impressive, underhit a back-pass, forcing Cherrie into a race with Hanlon, the keeper getting there first but his clearance attempt rebounding off the midfielder and restarting the race.
The Bray keeper did well to reach the ball to clear.
In the remaining time neither side looked like scoring, Bray shooting high and wide through Connolly and two Lynch frees, and Cherrie dealing calmly with a well-taken free by another former Seagull, Seán Houston.
The last sanction issued, deep in time added, was for dissent by Gareth McDonagh against what seemed another debatable offside flag.
Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie; 2 Hugh Douglas, 21 Tim Clancy, 4 Conor Kenna (c), 19 Kevin Lynch (yc); 3 John Sullivan; 10 Karl Moore, 7 Ryan Brennan, 22 Darragh Noone, 16 Dylan Connolly; 18 Andrew Lewis
Subs: 5 Alan McNally, 11 Jason Marks, 17 Gerard Pender (for Noone 89), 20 Paul Finnegan, 23 Gareth McDonagh (for Moore 74, yc), 24 Seán Harding, 40 Lee Steacy (gk)
Finn Harps: 73 Richard Brush; 2 Damien McNulty (yc), 5 Patrick Mailey, 4 Keith Cowan; 22 Ethan Boyle, 39 Barry Molloy, 19 Joshua Mailey (yc), 16 Seán Houston; 18 Adam Hanlon; 20 David Scully (yc), 10 Kevin McHugh (c)
Subs: 1 Ciaran Gallagher (gk), 7 Michael Funston (for McNulty 63), 8 Raymond Foy (for Scully 63), 9 Ryan Curran, 14 Thomas McMonagle, 24 Liam Flatley, 32 Ruairí Keating (for McHugh H/T, yc)
Referee: Robert Hennessy
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