Bray Wanderers 1 Derry City 1
Bray Wanderers made a welcome return to the Carlisle Grounds as Pat Devlin’s side got one last run out before next week’s season opener versus Cork City.
The home team started the brighter of the sides on Friday afternoon. They were duly rewarded in the ninth minute when Kurtis Byrne’s corner found Dan Blackbyrne’s head as he launched the ball past ex-Seagull Brian Maher to give the home side a deserved lead.
The Wanderers lead was to be short-lived though when Hugh Douglas brought down James Akintunde in the box.
Referee Alan Patchell wasted little time in pointing to the spot. Joe Thompson stepped up and sent Stephen McGuinness the wrong way going high to the keeper’s left.
The Seagulls looked composed when they had possession with the experience of Dean Zambra and Conor Clifford showing in midfield as the squad retained and recycled possession never trying to needlessly force an opening.
The patience was rewarded when on 20 minutes the referee awarded Bray a free kick in a dangerous position. Eoin McPhillips’ effort was parried over the crossbar by Maher; and the ensuing corner was nearly a repeat of the opening goal, only this time Blackbyrne’s effort was saved.
The Candystripes did look to gain the upper hand, through a sight familiar at the Carlisle Grounds, as Brandon Kavanagh roamed around trying to create space for himself. Bray’s left flank stayed strong as Jack Hudson and Paul Fox combined to limit the ex-Bray man’s creativity.
With both sides comfortable when they had possession and both defences staying disciplined, chances were limited for the rest of the half with both sides hitting low crosses into dangerous areas just lacking a finishing touch.
Four half time substitutions gave Devlin a chance to get more minutes into his squad with Callum Thompson once again looking lively in his cameo on the right and left wings.
The floodlights came on to counteract the darkening February afternoon although neither side could find the bright spark necessary to get through the other’s defence.
Bray’s last chance of the afternoon fell to Rob Manley when Kurtis Byrne played an incisive ball through the Derry defence, but Maher saved Manley’s effort comfortably.
Pat Devlin can be happy with his side’s pre-season effort as another 21 players got minutes on the field.
Despite coming up against top Premier Division opposition throughout the pre-season, his squad looked comfortable on the ball and strong in defence.
Good omens for what will hopefully be a successful season at the Carlisle Grounds for this new chapter of Bray Wanderers in their centenary year.
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness (Mick Kelly 62’); Dan Blackbyrne (Kevin Knight 46’), Hugh Douglas (Zak O’Neill 83’), Jack Hudson; Keith Dalton (Trialist A 46’), Dean Zambra (Eoin Massey 71’), Eoin McPhillips (Vilius Labutis 46’), Conor Clifford (Darragh Lynch 86’), Paul Fox (Callum Thompson 46’, Dean Casey 83’); Kurtis Byrne (Trialist B 71’), Rob Manley (Conor Knight 71’).
Derry City: Brian Maher; Caoimhin Portee, Ciaran Coll, Shane McEleney, Cameron Dummigan; Ciaran Harkin, Gerard Storey; Brandon Kavanagh, Joe Thompson, Luca Doherty; James Akintunde.
Report by Kevin Dooney
Pictures by Peter Minogue