Bray Wanderers 2 Athlone Town 2
A 92nd minute equaliser denied Bray what would have been a famous SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division win.
Down to ten men and trailing 1-0 at half time, the Seagulls went 2-1 ahead with a super second half showing at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday evening as the play-off race intensified.
But a second dismissal led to the hosts playing the last quarter of an hour with nine players before Athlone snatched a late point deep into injury time.
From the team that had gone down 3-0 away to league leaders Galway United last week, the Wicklow side made two changes.
Vice-skipper Dane Massey returned after suspension while winger Callum Thompson was recalled into the attack.
Against the odds, the Green and White’s rallied after the interval.
Awarded a free wide left in the 64th minute, Darren Craven curled the ball in right-footed.
Former Seagull Enda Minogue in the away goal tried to claim, under pressure from Chris Lyons. But the custodian didn’t gather with the ball going in off the striker’s calf.
It was confirmed afterwards by match officials that the goal would be officially awarded to Lyons.
The forward then made it his best ever scoring return in a season in his home town’s colours by putting Wanderers in front in the 74th minute.
Craven charged down German Fuentes Rodriguez’s clearance. He then nipped in ahead of the defender only to be brought down inside the box.
Lyons slotted in the spot-kick by sending Minogue the wrong way for his seventh score in all competitions in the 2023 campaign.
But two minutes later, Cole Omorehiomwan was dismissed for a second yellow after an off the ball incident with Pierrot.
Just when it seemed Bray would hold on, Athlone sub Néhémie Lamtoukou headed in Michael Peprah’s corner two minutes into stoppage time to snatch a 2-2 draw.
After a bright start by Wanderers, the Midlanders hit the front in the 12th minute through a controversial penalty.
Matt Connor saved well off Valerii Dolia’s 22-yard shot.
Bray defender Omorehiomwan then tangled with Pierrot for the rebound – with the striker appearing to kick the defender.
Referee Alan Patchell awarded a spot-kick with Pierrot converting for his 16th league goal of the season.
There was worse to follow for the Seasiders in the 36th minute.
Home skipper Dave Webster’s pass was cut out by Dolia. Webster then appeared to win the tackle. Patchell blew for a free then dismissed the defender after consulting with his fourth official Jason Moore – much to the dismay of the home dug-out and supporters in the stand.
Bray Wanderers: Matt Connor; Max Murphy, Dave Webster, Cole Omorehiomwan, Dane Massey; Darren Craven, Conor Crowley (Seán Quinn 56), Guillermo Almirall, Callum Thompson (Daniel Chukwu 87); Chris Lyons (Harry Groome 80), Ben Feeney (Len O’Sullivan 80).
Subs not used: Conor Knight, Jake Walker, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Yoyo Mahdy, Alex Moody
Booked: Lorcan Fitzgerald 37, Massey 90 + 3.
Sent off: Webster 36, Omorehiomwan (two yellows – 43 and 76)
Athlone Town: Enda Minogue; Haji Abdikadir (Jamar Campion-Hinds half time), German Fuentes Rodriguez, Noah van Geenen (Lamtoukou 86), Michael Peprah; Daniel McKenna, Patrick Hickey; Daniel Orrego (Matthew Leal half time), Aaron Connolly, Valerii Dolia (Dylan Gavin 63); 9 Frantz Pierrot.
Subs not used: Oisin Duffy, Nazar Zubkov, Josh McGlone, Matthew Baker, Vladi Velikin.
Booked: Abdikadir 28, McKenna 79.
Referee: Alan Patchell (Dublin).
Pictures: Graeme Fryer.
Mint+ man of the match: Callum Thompson.