Bray Wanderers 2 Shelbourne 2
A tremendous comeback saw Bray earn a deserved U14 EA Sports Tier 2 Phase 2 National Underage League Group D share of the spoils against leaders Shelbourne.
The Dubliner’s led 1-0 thanks to a goal in stoppage time of the first period at Ballycorus on Saturday afternoon. They doubled that lead courtesy of a penalty in the early stages of the second third.
But two goals in the last half hour saw the young Seagulls secure a draw.
It could have been even better for Wanderers had it not been for a man of the match display by away goalkeeper Ali Topcu who pulled off a string of top drawer saves.
The visitors started well with Max Ferguson heading over on 12 minutes.
They went close again in the 16th minute. Alex Forde brilliantly kept out Joe Lyon’s header off a corner. Play continued with Finn Sherlock’s mazy dribble finished with a low shot just off target.
The Reds broke the deadlock in injury time. In a team move started in their own half, the ball was played wide right to Lyon. His end-line cross was blocked. Arber Ferijaz followed up with Ferguson side-footing in from close range.
Bray started the second third well. Josh Delves’ 34th minute strike was superbly tipped onto the bar by Topcu. A minute later, the keeper made a great save to gather sub Billy O’Neill’s header.
Yet, Shels were awarded a 36th minute penalty for handball which Ferguson dispatched to make it 2-0.
The Green and White’s had the opportunity to pull one back in the 47th minute. Having broken clear, sub Cristiano Bramley dinked past Topcu but inches wide of the target.
Seconds later, Bramley’s dipping 25-yard effort was marvellously tipped over by the custodian.
Ferguson almost completed his hat-trick in the 59th minute. But Forde made a fantastic save to push the ball around his upright only for referee Willie O’Brien to award a goal-kick.
The home side pressed in the final third of the game. Topcu used his body to somehow divert Billy O’Neill’s close-range effort over the bar on 64. From the corner that followed, Billy O’Neill headed into the side netting.
But Wanderers made it 2-1 with 18 minutes to go. Delves cross was headed clear. It fell to sub Sean Howard who smacked a stunning half volley from 16-yards to the far corner of the net.
Billy O’Neill headed Delves’ 79th minute centre just wide on 79 before Bray equalised in the 85th minute.
Jake O’Neill flicked on for Billy O’Neill to beat the offside. He rounded Topcu but the forward was felled by a combination of the netminder and a defender just yards from the goal-line.
Although a penalty was awarded, no card(s) was shown by the match official. But Darragh Sherlock stepped up to convert the spot-kick.
Elsewhere in the section on Saturday, UCD played out a 2-2 draw with Wexford FC at Marley Park.
The two results mean Shelbourne top the Group with eight points. Bray have seven points with UCD third on four points while Wexford have a single point.
Wanderers face the Students in their last two matches – home and away. It’s the same scenario for Shels and Wexford.
Bray Wanderers: Alex Forde; Ryan Bell, Jack Maguire, Callum Kenna, Evan Lynch; Jake Fulton, Darragh Sherlock; Ethan Doyle, Billy Martin, Josh Delves; Jake O’Neill.
Subs: Sean Howard, Billy O’Neill, Adam Keane, Cristiano Bramley, Noah Byrne, Tadgh Worthington.
Shelbourne: Ali Topcu; Sean Gleeson, Alex Carlisle, Joe Smith, Finn Sherlock; Alex Flynn, Arber Ferijaz; Joe Lyon, Blake Hogan, Cian O’ Leary; Max Ferguson.
Subs: Alex Kendellan, Leon Hudson, Leon Egan, Aaron Keogh, Harry Callaghan, Lee Dunne.
Referee: Willie O’Brien (Wicklow ISRS).
* Bray remain at Ballycorus on Saturday September 24 next. They will host UCD at 12 noon. Victory would be enough to secure the runners-up spot in the Group at the very least.