Bray Wanderers 1 Cobh Ramblers 1
It once again was not to be for Bray at home as the Wanderers failed to secure three SSE Airtricity League First Division points at the Carlisle Grounds.
Despite having the better of the second half exchanges, the Green and White’s failed to find the necessary touch to send Cobh home empty handed on Friday evening.
The opening stages saw both sides struggle to settle into the game on a perfect evening by the seaside. The first major action came on 21 minutes when Jake Hegarty was deemed to be fouled by Dean Zambra in the box. Beineon O’Brien Whitmarsh stepped up but Michael Kelly stood tall to save his penalty hit down the middle of the goal. The positive mood in the Bray camp was short lived as from the ensuing corner Cobh did find the net. The initial header was not cleared, and Conor Drinan got his toe on the ball near the goal line to poke home after Ben O’Riordan had drilled low from the back post.
Having started in a 4-3-3 formation, the Seagulls switched to a 4-4-2 with the introduction of Callum Thompson just before the interval. That search for an equaliser did have to wait long as the hosts found it in stoppage time in the first half. After some good build up play from the back which included an incisive Jack Hudson pass, the ball came to Paul Fox on the left wing. He played the ball inside to Kurtis Byrne who cut onto his left foot while beating the defender before finding the bottom corner with a fine low strike from outside the box.
Wanderers enjoyed the better of the second half and truly came into their own around the hour mark. On 66 minutes, a cross from the right found Rob Manley at the near post but his effort seemed to roll across the cross bar before being cleared. Just a minute later, Manley broke through up the middle but was denied by a great save from Sean Barron. It was not all one-way traffic though as Kelly was forced to pull off several fine saves. First – he denied O’Brien Whitmarsh with a diving save. Then was on hand again to save a Brendan Frahill header from a corner.
On 78 minutes, there were strong calls for a Bray penalty after the ball appeared to be handled in the box. The officials once again made a baffling decision four minutes later when Byrne’s free kick from the right channel visibly and audibly came off the wall – but a goal kick was awarded. The last ten minutes saw Kieran Marty Waters return to the form that has made him a fan favourite and nightmare to deal with for opponents. He won the abovementioned free kick by cutting inside the full back and again beat his man in the 85th minute when he created space to fizz an inviting ball across the goal. But again, nobody could apply the necessary finish. The final chance of the match fell to Waters in added time after Dean Zambra played him in, but the winger could not place his shot on target.
Bray will make their shortest away trip of the year on Monday as they head down the N11 to face Wexford before returning to the Carlisle Grounds next Friday to take on Waterford.
Two big matches in the race to secure play-off spots and Wanderers fans can only hope that the squad will find some scoring form and pick up some victories.
Bray Wanderers: Michael Kelly; Dan Blackbyrne, Enda Douglas (Callum Thompson 37’), Jack Hudson, Kevin Knight; Kieran Marty Waters, Dean Zambra, Karl Manahan (Ben Feeney 69’), Paul Fox; Kurtis Byrne (Darragh Levingston 88’), Rob Manley (Darragh Lynch 69’).
Subs not used: Keith Dalton, Eoin Massey, Conor Knight, Conor McManus, Stephen McGuinness.
Booked: Kevin Knight 61’, Callum Thompson 71’, Paul Fox 85
Cobh Ramblers: Sean Barron; James McCarthy, Ben O’Riordan, Brendan Frahill, Darragh O’Sullivan Connell (Darryl Walsh 75’); Conor Drinan, Jason Abbott, Pierce Phillips (Luke Desmond 67’), Jack Larkin; Jake Hegarty (James O’Leary 67’), Beineon O’Brien Whitmarsh.
Subs not used: Sean McGrath, Justin Eguaibor, Ciaran Griffin, Tiernan O’Brien McAllister, Harlain Mbayo, Darragh Burke.
Booked: James McCarthy 54’, Darryl Walsh 81’
Referee: Eoghan O’Shea
Mintplus.ie Man of the Match: Michael Kelly
Report: Kevin Dooney.
Pictures: Peter Minogue.