Longford Town 2 Bray Wanderers 2
If ever a match summed up Bray’s SSE Airtricity First Division season, this was it.
With the opportunity for Wanderers to take the play-off chase to the final day of the 2023 campaign, Longford snatched a 96th minute equaliser at Bishopsgate on Saturday afternoon.
It had looked good for the visitors as they led 2-0 at the interval as Darren Craven came back to haunt his former club with a first half double.
With Finn Harps getting the better of Athlone Town 4-1 in Donegal, and champions Galway United beating Treaty United by the same score-line in Limerick, it had meant it was possible for the Green and White’s to finish in fifth place if results went their way on the final day of the season next week.
However, the three results now means that in order to make the play-offs, Bray must beat Finn Harps. And Longford must defeat Athlone – with an eight-goal swing over the two games.
Plus, Treaty must not get the better of Waterford.
A plus for the away side was the first-team debut for U17 player Alain Kizenga.
The 16-year-old – like Philip Cooney last month – has played at U14, U15, U17, U19 level and now the first team – showing the player pathway is there within the club.
The Seagulls hit the front in the 17th minute.
Skipper Dane Massey launched a ball wide left to winger Callum Thompson. He scampered down the wing but cut in-field to cross. Craven arrived to divert the ball right-footed o the far right bottom corner of the net from 14-yards.
Wanderers doubled that cushion in the 26th minute.
After Chris Lyons was fouled 30-yards out, Craven struck the free-kick, Jack Harrington spilled the ball which the Assistant referee Darren Carey adjudging the ball had crossed the goal-line.
When the teams met at the Carlisle Grounds last August, the Seasiders led 2-0 only for the Midlanders to rally and come out on top 4-2.
Longford had the chance in the 70th minute to reduce the deficit.
But Wanderers keeper Matt Connor made a vital block to divert Beineon O’Brien Whitmarsh’s low drive from 15-yards wide of the upright.
But the hosts pulled one back with 12 minutes of normal time remaining.
Kyle O’Connor sent over a deep delivery from the left flank which was met by sub Francis Campbell to score with a placed volley back across goal.
Bray had to chance to put the result beyond doubt in the 83rd minute.
Conor Knight intercepted a pass in the centre circle. And released Yoyo Mahdy. The sub tried to place his 25-yard low shot around the on-rushing Harrington. But the keeper made a crucial leg block save.
Fourth official David Dunne held aloft four minutes of addition time in the 90th minute.
Bray made two subs moments later, bringing on Conor Davis and Kizenga. Davis was then booked in the 96th minute for not retreat8ng from a free-0kick.
Harrington sent the ball into the box which was headed clear. It was played wide right for sub Gary Armstrong to cross with Dylan Hand powering the back post header.
Longford Town: Jack Harrington; Dylan Hand, Lewis Temple, Derek Daly; Viktor Serdeniuk; Gavin O’Brien (Mohammed Boudiaf 67), Bastien Hery (Gary Armstrong 85), Adam Wixted (Francis Campbell half time), Klye O’Connor (James Doona 80); Beineon O’Brien Whitmarsh, Olajuwon Adeyemo (Ross Fay 67).
Subs not used: Aaron Walsh, Jamal Ibrahim, Guilherme Rego Priosti, Jack Brady.
Booked: Adeyemo 21, Hand 40.
Bray Wanderers: Matt Connor; Max Murphy, Jack Hudson, Cole Omorehiomwan, Dane Massey; Harry Groome; Darren Craven (Conor Crowley 69), Guillermo Almirall (Conor Davis 90 + 1); Conor Knight (Len O’Sullivan 85) Chris Lyons (Yoyo Mahdy 69), Callum Thompson (Alain Kizenga 90 + 1)
Subs not used: Dave Webster, Daniel Chukwu, Thomas Morgan, Alex Moody.
Booked: Crowley 84, Davis 90 + 6.
Referee: Gavin Colfer (Wicklow).
Pictures: Eddie Lennon.