Bray goal scorer Philip Cooney
Shelbourne 3 Bray Wanderers 1
In their penultimate match of the 2022 campaign, Bray suffered a narrow U15 EA Sports National League of Ireland Phase 2 (Tier 2) loss.
In a tight affair at a wind and rain soaked AUL Complex in Dublin on Sunday afternoon, Shelbourne took the points as two late goals secured victory.
In what was the fourth meeting of the two teams this season in all competitions, the first 30 minutes was an evenly contested affair, with both clubs creating chances.
The Seasiders went closest first with Ronan Dawson hitting the post with a stooping header from a corner. But the Reds responded immediately and hit the post themselves.
Away goalkeeper Sam Baker then made an excellent double save, after the first shot was spilled; he reacted superbly to save the second from point blank range.
The Green and Whites then had a wonderful opportunity to break the deadlock. Daragh Emmet’s pinpoint cross found Philip Cooney at the back post. But he could not force the ball over the line.
The breakthrough eventually came in the 45th minute – in the host’s favour. Shels won a free-kick midway in the away half. The high ball was not dealt with, and Max Ferguson looped a header into the top corner of the net.
But Bray continued to press and were rewarded for their efforts just before the hour mark.
After some excellent interplay between U14 player Billy O’Neill and Ethan Cheese, Cooney was played in. He then slotted the ball coolly into the bottom left corner.
The game was decided in a hectic five-minute spell late in the last third.
A misplaced back pass and mix-up in the Seagulls defence saw Dan Ring tap into an open goal.
Soon after, Wanderers were reduced to ten players. Jack Nolan was deemed to be last man as he pulled back Ring. Referee Niall McLoughlin awarded the free kick and produced the red card.
Bray continued to battle for an equaliser. O’Neill caused problems and his cut back found Cooney who could not get a strike away. Then Alain Kizenga had a good chance from a corner. But failed to capitalise.
In the final minute of normal time as the visitors continued to press, Stephen Aluebhosele broke clear to seal the win for the home side as they moved level on points with leaders Galway United.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Waterford FC overcame Galway United 6-3 at the SETU Arena. Klub Kildare defeated Cobh Ramblers 5-3 at Tougher Park.
All three results means that Shelbourne need a point away against Waterford in their last match to become champions.
Bray are joint-third on 13 points with Waterford but have a better goal difference of +1. Sligo Rovers are on 12 points with Cobh Ramblers and Klub Kildare on 11 points.
Bray Wanderers: Sam Baker; Fionn Murray, Alain Kizenga, Ronan Dawson; Jack Nolan, Aidan Kane, Ethan Cheese, Ciaran Leeson; Rhys Knight; Philip Cooney, Darragh Emmett.
Subs: Eric Schütte, Leon O’Sullivan, Dylan Bourke, Max Colbert, Billy O’Neill, Darragh Butler.
* Bray complete their 2022 season on Sunday October 16 away against Cobh Ramblers. Kick-off is set for 2.00pm at Oldchurch Park.
Wanderers will finish third in the section if they secure victory. And better the result of Waterford who host Shels.
But any other result could see Waterford, Cobh, Sligo Rovers, or Klub Kildare possibly overtake them.