Bray Wanderers 2 Shelbourne 3
The curtain came down on Bray’s underage 2022 season as the U14 team lost narrowly to Shelbourne in the EA Sports Shield Semi Final.
There was disappointment as the home side twice came from behind to tie the contest.
But the visitors snatched a late winner in the five-goal thriller at a sunny Carlisle Grounds on Saturday afternoon to set-up a decider with Derry City.
The two clubs had previously been paired together in the Group stages of the competition.
In the two Tier 2 Phase 2 National Underage League Group D games, the Reds won 3-1 at the start of September at the AUL Complex in Dublin.
But the reverse fixture two weeks later at Ballycorus ended in a 2-2 draw.
The Green and White’s started on the front foot with Cristiano Bramley glancing a fifth minute header wide after a fine left wing run and cross by Josh Delves.
But the Red’s hit the front after 21 minutes.
After an initial shot was charged down on the edge of the penalty area, Aaron Keogh followed up to strike a 22-yard half volley that dipped just under the crossbar.
With the wind at their backs for the middle period of the three, the Seagulls rallied.
Substitute Billy O’Neill flashed a 39th minute drive across the face of goal. Three minutes later, the same attacker created space in the box. But away custodian Ali Topcu was equal to the low drive with a fine gather.
However, in the 44th minute, Billy O’Neill unleased a wonderful 30-yard free-kick right footed. It curved beyond the keepers’ dive and found the left corner of the net.
Before the hour, the Wicklow teams’ Adam Keane had a drive gathered by Topcu on 55 while at the other end, Billings claimed Keogh’s 20-yard free in the 59th minute.
In the final 30 minutes of play, the visitor’s got a firm grip of the midfield play which would eventually bring them victory.
Sub Arber Ferijaz fired just wide on 68 while Cillian Ryan was also just off target moments later on 69.
It proved third time lucky in the 70th minute.
After a cross from the left, Ryan saw his close range attempt superbly stopped by reserve goalkeeper Alex Forde. But Ferijaz followed up to side foot in the rebound six six-yards.
To their credit, Bray responded and equalised in style in the 73rd minute.
From a long back from the right of the home half, sub Jake O’Neill won a tussle on the halfway line. He then zig-zagged along the left flank and go to the by-line before hanging up a cross. Billy O’Neill got the before an away defender to loop a header back across goal into the net at the near post.
What proved to be the winner arrived in the 76th minute.
Ryan whipped in a cross from the right-wing, deep to the back post. The ball dropped between the cross-bar and upright with Finn Sherlock winning an aerial challenge with Forde to head in from virtually on the goal-line.
Bray Wanderers: Liam Billings; Tadgh Worthington, Callum Kenna, Noah Byrne, Max Free; Jake Fulton, Sean Howard; Darragh Sherlock; Billy Martin, Josh Delves; Cristiano Bramley.
Subs: Evan Lynch, Billy O’Neill, Jake O’Neill, Jack Maguire, Ryan Bell, Adam Keane, Alex Forde.
Shelbourne: Ali Topcu; Sean Gleeson, Alex Carlisle, Joe Smith, Finn Sherlock; Joe Lyon, Alex Flynn, Aaron Keogh, Cian O’Leary; Cillian Ryan; Max Ferguson.
Subs: Arber Ferijaz, Harry Callaghan, Leon Egan, Lee Dunne, Finn Moylan.
Referee: James Keating.