Bray Wanderers 2 Wexford FC 2
Rarely you let your hopes get away from you when watching football.
Such was the case on Monday at the Carlisle Grounds when after 70 minutes Wanderers were 2-0 up at home to Wexford, and looking for a vital three points.
Over the next 20 minutes, things proceeded to fall apart with Wexford pulling one back within minutes of going two behind, before substitute Karl Manahan saw his first touch cannon into his own net with the last meaningful kick of the match.
Coming into the SSE Airtricity League First Division match six points behind Wexford and seven behind Treaty, a second home win was imperative to keep Bray’s playoff ambitions alive.
Playing with a strong breeze in the first half, the away side launched many long balls with goalkeeper Alex Moody trying to find a roving Jack Doherty in the visiting attack.
While Wexford looked to get in behind, they were constantly foiled by an alert Stephen McGuinness who was quick off his line to snuff out any danger.
After the Seagulls struck the crossbar on 13 minutes through Darragh Lynch, Bray’s breakthrough came on the half hour mark.
Captain Conor Clifford smartly intercepted a pass in the midfield. He played a tidy ball to Paul Fox who had cut in from the left flank. The winger calmly finished with his right foot to send his former team one down.
Despite the conditions, the second half continued similarly to the first with Wexford controlling possession while Bray looked to utilise their pace on the counter.
The Slaneysiders had the first true chance of the half when Callum Thompson’s back pass held up and was picked up by Dinny Corcoran. The experienced striker was met by an onrushing McGuinness with the keeper’s frame getting in the way.
The Seagulls’ patience was duly rewarded on 69 minutes when Conor McManus launched a counter by sending Fox streaking down the left wing. Fox drove downfield before squaring to Darragh Lynch who provided to slightest of touches to guide the ball past Moody at the near post.
Hopes of a pleasurable final 20 minutes were short lived as Wexford pulled on back just two minutes later.
After a period of possession, Conor Davis played the ball along the deck to substitute Aaron Dobbs who finished low past McGuinness.
The hosts fought to hold on to the three points with substitute Vilius Labutis coming close to extending the lead on 77 minutes when his shot from distance which was goal bound until Alex Moody met it with a strong hand. Brimming with confidence Paul Fox also tried his luck from range but could only trouble the top of the net.
With five minutes of added time to kill, Pat Devlin looked to his bench and made a double substitution to introduce Conor Knight and Karl Manahan.
With Wexford breaking it fell to Labutis to take a yellow card for the team and give away a free kick just inside the home half.
The short pass from Moody to Paul Cleary perhaps caught the defence unawares. Cleary’s long thump forward was not dealt with and eventually came to Len O’Sullivan who crossed. An attempted clearance from Manahan was subsequently thundered into his own net with such ferocity that there was nothing McGuinness could do to prevent the points being shared.
Bray face the unenviable task of welcoming Cork City on Friday night as the search for much needed points to mount a play-off push goes on.
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness; Eoin Massey, Dan Blackbyrne, Jack Hudson, Conor McManus; CallumThompson, Conor Clifford, Ben Feeney, Paul Fox (Conor Knight 90’); Kieran Marty Waters (Vilius Labutis72’), Darragh Lynch (Karl Manahan 90’)
Subs not used: Michael Kelly, Kurtis Byrne, Jamie Callaghan, Zak O’Neill, Eoin McPhillips, Ugo Anny Nzekwue.
Booked: Eoin Massey 76’, Vilius Labutis 90’
Wexford FC: Alex Moody; Aidan Friel (Thomas Considine 65’), Paul Cleary, Jordon Tallon; Len O’Sullivan, Luka Lovic, Conor Crowley (Aaron Dobbs 65’), Harry Groome; Conor Davis (Evan Farrell 84’), Dinny Corcoran, Jack Doherty.
Subs not used: Paul Hunt, Conor Barry, Luke Scanlon, Sean Fitzpatrick
Booked: Luka Lovic 82.
Referee: Oliver Moran
Mintplus.ie Man of the Match: Darragh Lynch
Report: Kevin Dooney.
Photographs: Peter Minogue.