Bray Wanderers 2 Shamrock Rovers 1
Bray’s bid to reach a fourth ever Leinster Senior Cup final moved a step closer with a hard-earned 2-1 triumph over Shamrock Rovers.
In the first competitive game between the clubs since April 2019, first goals for the Wicklow outfit by Conor Davis and Joe Power sent their side into the Semi Finals of the provincial competition.
On a bitterly cold evening at the Carlisle Grounds, Wanderers fielded a much changed line-up on Monday from that who drew 0-0 with Longford Town the previous Friday at the same venue.
Skipper for the night Luca Lovic, goalkeeper Stephen McGuinness, defender Zach Donohue and attacker Conor Knight were all handed their first starts of the 2023 campaign for the last eight tie.
Jack Hudson and Ben Feeney also came into the starting 11 while there was another positive – Darren Craven was included for the first time this season after injury. He would later make a late cameo appearance amongst the substitutes.
On the bench, U19 players Leon Ajala (defender) and reserve custodian Jake Ross filled for the first time competitively.
The visitors fielded a team with no less than five teenagers starting.
But as the old saying goes ‘you can only beat the 11 players put in front of you’.
Feeney fired into the side netting after just two minutes.
It took a last ditch tackle by the covering Hudson on 12 minutes to deny the breaking Simon Power.
The Greystones native picked up an injury in the challenge which cut short is sibling battle with younger brother Joe – who would go on to have a big say in the final outcome,
Wanderers hit the front just after the half hour.
Feeney sent in a low cross from the right corner flag. Davis appeared to get a touch ahead of a defender with referee Paul Norton pointing to the spot for he tackle.
Davis dusted himself down to convert the 12-yard dead-ball down the middle.
The Seagulls went close again on 40. Feeney was thwarted by Hoops stopper Leon Pohls with Donohue firing in a shot that was deflected to Feeney only for Pohls to make another fine reaction save.
However, seconds later, it did become 2-0.
After a corner, Joe Power whipped in an inviting cross from the left flank right-footed. Cole Omorehiomwan rose to get a head to the ball (but didn’t). It dropped at the far post and bounced past Pohls’ dive to the far corner of the net.
The second period was just four minutes old when Joe Power swung in a free from the right. It call all the way to the back stick were Feeney prodded goalwards close in. But Pohls made a stop right on the goal-line.
Moments later at the other end, McGuinness made a brilliant save one-on-one with visiting sub Onesime Tembe.
On 73, Pohls again made a stop to prevent Feeney adding to the home tally.
Liam Burt blasted over for the Dubliner’s on 74 when well placed.
With 12 minutes of normal time remaining, Pohls saved from Max Murphy. Then on 84, Tembe lifted his effort over a gaping goal after McGuinness had parried Burt’s attempt.
But the reigning Premier Division champions did pull one back in the 87th minute. After good inter-play, Justin Ferizaj’s low effort saw McGuinness get a hand to the ball. But it rolled over the line.
The result means Bray join Bohemians and Usher Celtic in the last four draw. The other Quarter Final between Dundalk and Shelbourne is still to be played.
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness; Max Murphy, Cole Omorehiomwan, Jack Hudson, Zach Donohue (Len O’Sullivan 72); Guillermo Almirall (Darren Craven 82), Luka Lovic, Joe Power (Conor Crowley 64); Conor Knight (Scott Browne 72), Conor Davis (Callum Thompson 82); Ben Feeney.
Sub not used: Leon Ajala, Jack Ross.
Booked: Davis 26, Lovic 83.
Shamrock Rovers: Leon Pohls; Sean Gannon, Carl Lennox, Orlandas Jakas (John O’Sullivan 78); Conan Noonan, Darragh Nugent, Justin Ferizaj, Kieran Cruise; Sean Jones-Carey (Cian Curtis 61), Liam Burt; Simon Power (Onesime Tembe 17).
Sub not used: Tom Leitis.
Booked: Carey 61.
Referee: Paul Norton.
Pictures by Peter Minogue.