Bray Wanderers 2 Athlone Town 3
In their penultimate U17 EA Sports Phase 2 National Underage League Tier 2 match of the 2022 campaign, Bray came out the wrong side of a five-goal thriller.
Somewhat against the possession run of play, Athlone led 2-0 at the interval on Saturday afternoon at Ballycorus.
But Wanderers rallied to square matters by the hour mark. However, ‘Town goalkeeper Charlie Raper became the unlikely match-winner by registering the vital scored midway through the second half.
It had finished 1-1 when the teams met in the reverse fixture at the Athlone Town Stadium at the start of September.
The hosts started well this time round, and after just four minutes, Joshua Kerr played in Eoghan O’Hanlon. He was held up on the edge of the box with Kerr’s follow up being saved by Raper.
The Midlanders then took the lead in the 20th minute. Hubert Zakrzewski chased down a long ball up to the middle to slot a low effort to the net from 15-yards.
The Green and Whites went close to tying up the game in the 28th minute. After decent work by Matthew Rose-Anderson along the right by-line, fellow full-back Zach Nolan drove the ball back into the danger zone form the left. But inside the six-yard box, both O’Hanlon and Max Mason were unable to get a touch.
Within 90 seconds, the visitors made it 2-0.
Winger Kevin Sweeney picked up possession near the left of the halfway line in his own half. He then held off three opponents and then cut-back to fire a fantastic 20-yard shot to the net.
But the Seagulls showed character and came out a different proposition after the turnaround.
They pulled one back in the 50th minute when Nolan powered in Kerr’s corner with a thumping header.
And then equalised in style seven minutes later.
Nolan and Lewis Jacobs combined to set O’Hanlon free down the left channel. He then unleased a stunning shot from the corner of the box – that Raper got fingertips to – only for the ball to find the far-right top corner of the net.
Athlone then brought Raper outfield in the 64th minute.
He was denied by Samuel Safaei’s fine save in the 65th minute before the winning goal arrived three minutes later. From a right-wing corner, Safaei punched only for the ball to rebound off Raper and drop over the line.
Bray Wanderers: Samuel Safaei; Matthew Rose-Anderson, Paddy Kildee-Doolan, Caleb O’Neill, Zach Nolan; Jake Murray, Lewis Jacobs; Daniel Chukwu, Joshua Kerr, Eoghan O’Hanlon, Max Mason,
Subs: Conor O’Gorman, Daniel Lee, Harry Sherlock, Dylan Ryan, Philip Cooney, Max Hennessey, Jamie Molloy.
Athlone Town: Charlie Raper; Taylor Slevin, Noah Flynn, Jason Ukatu, Conor Bracken; Kevin Sweeney, Gordon Feery, Darragh Kenny, Scott Clynes; Roy Lawlor; Hubert Zakrzewski.
Subs: Eoin Sheeran, Albert Edet, Martin Scally, Brandon Wykes, Cameron Keighery, Szymon Skura.
Referee: Kate O’Brien
* Bray have their last match of the 2022 season on Saturday October 15 next. They will entertain Kerry FC at 2.00pm at Ballycorus.