Galway United 2 Bray Wanderers 0
Hopes of a repeat of last Friday week’s defensive SSE Airtricity League First Division performance against Cork were quickly dashed when Galway took the lead in the first ten minutes. Despite a much stronger second half showing the Wanderers’ good work was undone at Eamonn Deacy Park by a controversial penalty 20 minutes from the end to secure three points for United on a deeply disappointing night for Bray.
On the back of a resolute performance against Cork and losing in the last minute against Longford, the Seagulls travelled west hoping to find some goal scoring form and get some momentum going as the second round of fixtures progresses. The away side fielded no less than seven Wicklow players in their starting XI. It included a full debut for Enda Douglas in defence. However, the defensive solidity that has been the backbone of all that has been good about this squad was undone after just eight minutes when a free kick from the left wing resulted in a scramble in the box before Stephen Walsh popped up to hammer the ball home. It was a half totally dominated by the Tribesmen as the visitors struggled to keep the ball and string together passes to really hurt Galway. United would have made it two right on the stroke of halftime if not for a great save by Stephen McGuinness who denied Walsh’s shot as the forward was through on goal.
A different Bray seemed to emerge for the second half and took full advantage of a deeper sitting Galway team. Their first chance came on the hour mark when Dan Blackbyrne’s long throw was flicked on in the box. Kurtis Byrne was unable to make full contact with his shot and Rob Manley could not get the ball past two defenders and the keeper in a highly congested six-yard box. The loyal visiting fans were on their feet again in the 68th minute when Kurtis Byrne rattled the crossbar with a free kick from the edge of the box. This passage of play was to mark the end of Bray’s hopes in the match as two minutes later a series of bizarre decisions left Galway two up after a spot kick.
Firstly, Galway were awarded a throw-in near the right corner flag despite the appearance that Enda Douglas had played the ball off his opponent. From the ensuing throw in right in front of the away fans a Galway player went down in dubious circumstance in the box but was duly rewarded when Paul Norton pointed to the spot. David Hurley stepped up and sent the ball high to the keeper’s left leaving McGuinness no chance. The Wanderers fought to the end to get back into the game but with a two goal lead to defend the home side were content to sit deep and see out their three points.
Once again Bray have started a round of fixtures against the three best teams in the league although this time have looked much closer to coming away with positive results. With the next five games against teams hunting for the play-offs, there are many points to be fought for that could turn the so far up and down season around.
Galway United: Conor Kearns, Conor O’Keefe, Killian Brouder, Diego Portilla, Alex Murphy, David Hurley, (Jordan Adeyemo 88’), Conor McCormack ©, Edward McCarthy (Charlie Lyons 88’) Manu Dimas, (Gary Boylan 65’), Wilson Waweru (Francely Lomboto 76’), Stephen Walsh (Max Hemmings 88’)
Subs not used: Matthew Connor, Charlie, Ronan Manning, Evan O’Connor, Ben Molloy.
Booked: Diego Portilla (90).
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness, Daniel Blackbyrne, Hugh Douglas, Enda Douglas Jack Hudson; Callum Thompson (Conor Knight 83’) Karl Manahan, Dean Zambra, Keith Dalton (Kieran Marty Waters 83’); Kurtis Byrne (Darragh Kynch 90’) Rob Manley (Ugo Anny Nzekwue 90’).
Subs not used: Michael Kelly, Eoin Massey, Zak O’Neill, Vilius Labutis, Conor McManus.
Booked: Hugh Douglas, Kurtis Byrne (both 70), Kieran Marty Waters (90).
Referee: Paul Norton
Report: Kevin Dooney.
Pictures: Michael Duffy