Kerry FC 0 Bray Wanderers 2
Bray spoiled the party in the historic first-ever SSE Airtricity League First Division meeting between the clubs at Mounthawk Park by claiming all three points.
Second half goals by Harry Groome and Ben Feeney helped seal the victory over Kerry on Friday evening.
The win, coupled with other results, saw the ‘Wanderers climb back up to third in the charts.
The Wicklow outfit made the over seven-hour return trip to the Kingdom and made three changes to the team who beaten Finn Harps seven day previous 2-0 at the Carlisle Grounds.
Captain Dave Webster made his first full start of the 2023 season. He was joined in defence by Max Murphy in defence after suspension while Darren Craven was recalled in midfield.
On the bench, Len O’Sullivan returned after injury while Player/First Team Coach Lorcan Fitzgerald was available following a ban.
The hosts – who were looking for their first ever home victory – retained the same starting side who had defeated Athlone Town 3-2 last week at Lissywollen.
Remarkably too, the referee Kevin O’Sullivan was the same official who looked after Bray’s 3-1 triumph over Kerry last February at the Carlisle.
The Seagulls almost got off to the perfect start with Ger Shortt flashing low and just wide after 25 seconds.
But the first period was a lacklustre affair devoid of clear cut chances.
Alex Moody gathered Ryan Kelliher’s header off Samuel Aladesanusi’s 16th minute long throw.
Two minutes later, Feeney got on the end of Murphy’s corner at the back post. But the ball bounced down and wide.
Home custodian Aaron O’Sullivan made a diving save off Dane Massey’s cross-shot on 35 after a corner had not been dealt with by the hosts.
Kerry threatened on 40 as Sean McGrath fired over from the edge of the box.
Then in first half stoppage time, a corner dropped to home captain Kevin Williams on the six-yard area. But he volleyed wide of the target as the half time whistle blew.
Wanderers came out a different proposition after the interval. And took the lead in the 51st minute.
Shortt raided along the right wing and square the ball out wide to Craven. His cross was parried by the diving Aaron O’Sullivan. But the ball fell to the inrushing Groome who lifted a placed half volley to the roof of the net from ten-yards.
The visitors went close again on 53. Feeney’s initial shot was blocked. His low follow up from 16-yards was smothered by Aaron O’Sullivan.
Kerry had penalty appeal protest waved down in the 66th minute as Nathan Gleeson claimed his was being held after another long Aladesanusi throw-in.
But the match was decided in the 81st minute.
Massey’s 80th minute free was cleared back to him with the veteran heading back into the danger zone.
Cole Omorehiomwan won a aerial duel with the ball dropping to Feeney. He got a touch, but the ball was blocked by Kelliher’s arm.
After a delay of 80 seconds due to protests and two yellow cards to Kerry, Feeney sent Aaron O’Sullivan the wrong way from the spot with a low finish into the bottom right corner of the net.
Remarkably, it was the first ever penalty the team from the Kingdom had conceded at the venue; and Bray’s first spot-kick of the season.
Bray Wanderers: Alex Moody; Max Murphy, David Webster (Jack Hudson 67), Cole Omorehiomwan, Dane Massey (Len O’Sullivan 85); Luka Lovic, Harry Groome; Darren Craven (Eoin Farrell 75), Conor Davis (Callum Thompson 67), Gerard Shortt (Conor Knight 85); Ben Feeney.
Subs not used: Lorcan Fitzgerald, Stephen McGuinness
Booked: Shortt 55, Lovic 72.
Kerry FC: Aaron O’Sullivan; Cian Barrett, Samuel Aladesanusi, Kevin Williams, Robert Vasiu; Togor Silong, Ronan Teahan (Graham O’Reilly 71); Nathan Gleeson (Kennedy Amechi71), Sean McGrath (Stephen McCarthy 76), Leonardo Gaxha; Ryan Kelliher.
Subs not used: Alex Ainscough, Matthew Keane, Cianan Cooney, Callan Scully.
Booked: Teahan 61, Aaron O’Sullivan 81, Williams 82, Silong 87.
Referee: Kevin O’Sullivan (Cork).
Pictures: Michael P. Ryan.