Bray Wanderers 1 Longford Town 2
It was a heartbreaking Bank Holiday Monday for the Wanderers as Darren Craven’s 94th minute winner saw Longford snatch all three SSE Airtricity League First Division points after a strong Bray performance.
On the back of Friday’s fine defensive showing in Cork, the Seagulls were welcomed back to the Carlisle Grounds with hail and rain showers – but beneath grey skies, the side started brightly. Callum Thompson continued his run of causing defenders trouble down the flanks but his two balls into the box in the opening ten minutes could not be steered goal wards. Longford slowly came into the game and created the clearest opening of the half when on 36 minutes minutes Sam Verdon got past Stephen McGuinness, but the striker’s ball across the gaping net was not met by a ‘Town player.
Just after the teams returned for the second half, Bray could have taken the lead. Thompson once again beat his defender on the left and fired a low ball across goal, which Darragh Lynch lifted over the bar from inside the six-yard box. The Wanderers would rue the missed chance as the Midlander’s took the lead against the run of play on 54 minutes. Dan Blackbyrne was harshly judged to have fouled Ryan Graydon on the left wing. Dean McMenamy’s free kick was met by Michael Barker’s head and powered past a helpless McGuinness.
The game became increasingly open as it wore on with the home side pushing for an equaliser. Substitute Rob Manley came closest on 71 minutes after Kieran Marty Waters created space on the left wing and played the ball across goal, but the striker couldn’t sort his feet out to get the shot on target. Eric Molley scuffed wide on 77 after McGuinness had denied Verdon close in. Manley then duly delivered his first goal for the club eight minutes later when he rose highest to meet a Kurtis Byrne corner with 11 minutes to play. The Seagulls certainly did not settle for a point and continued to push for a winner. Their best chance to get one came after 85 minutes when McGuinnes threw to Blackbyrne to set up a counter-attack. Blackbyrne found Manley who released Thompson driving into the box but his effort was saved by Dennison.
Conor Knight was next to try his luck two minutes into the four of added time but his shot from distance was spectacularly tipped over by Dennison. Disaster struck for the Wanderers from the ensuing corner. Darren Craven was played the ball in his own half and he charged forward to the edge of the Bray box before sliding a low shot past McGuinness. Past the allotted time further chaos reigned when referee Oliver Moran saw fit to brandish four yellow cards (two for each side) and a red card for Paul Fox as the frustrations of the late concession got to the players.
With the new feature of Monday matches, Bray will again have very little time to reflect and regroup as they head on the road again on Friday night with a trip to Galway awaiting Pat Devlin’s men.
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness; Dan Blackbyrne, Jack Hudson, Kevin Knight, Paul Fox; Keith Dalton (Kurtis Byrne 64’), Dean Zambra, Darragh Levingston (Karl Manahan 65’), Callum Thompson; Kieran Marty Waters (Conor Knight 78’), Darragh Lynch (Rob Manley 64’).
Subs not used: Michael Kelly, Hugh Douglas, Zak O’Neill, Vilius Labutis, Ugo Anny Nzekwue.
Booked: Darragh Levingston 58’, Jack Hudson 79, Kevin Knight 88’, Callum Thompson 90’ Kurtis Byrne 90’.
Sent Off: Paul Fox 90’.
Longford Town: Luke Dennison; Shane Elworthy, Michael Barker, Dylan Barnett, Ben Lynch; Eric Molloy (Joe Power 89’), Dean McMenamy, Aaron Robinson (Karl Chambers 17’), Darren Craven, Ryan Graydon (Matthew O’Brien 65’); Sam Verdon
Subs not used: Lee Steacy, Mick McDonnell, Matthew Dunne, Adam Hayden, Joe Doyle, Cristian Magerusan
Booked: Dean McMenamy 89’, Sam Verdon 90’, Shane Elworthy 90’.
Referee: Oliver Moran (Louth).
MintPlus.ie Man of the Match: Kevin Knight
Report by Kevin Dooney.
Pictures by Alex Connolly and Peter Minogue.