Sligo rovers 3 (Foran og 25, Kenny 27, Sadlier 52) Bray Wanderers 2 (McCabe 3, 37)
Premier division, 18 March 2017, Showgrounds.
An early lead for the visitors was to prove deceptive, as the hosts came back to lead before the half-hour, and the teams were level at the break. Only the Bit o’ Red found the net after the resumption, and Bray returned empty handed from Sligo once more.
Gary McCabe struck in the third minute while things were only settling down, but twenty minutes later the unlucky Derek Foran saw his foot show Kieran Sadlier’s cross the way to the net. Heartened by that lucky break, Chris Kenny had no compunction about finishing off the rebound when Jonah Ayunga’s shot was blocked. And although McCabe restored the Seagulls to equality before the break, Sadlier struck seven minutes into the second period, his 25m free flying directly to Peter Cherrie’s net.
Despite no fewer than six further chances on goal thereafter, Bray were unable to claw their way back to level terms again.
The visitors got off to the perfect start, capitalising on early jitters in the Sligo defence, as Toby Adebayo-Rowling hesitated in clearing Aaron Greene’s low cross which duly fell to McCabe to finish with a simple touch. Stung into action, the home side responded with a flurry of attacks, Cherrie in action to prevent John Russell’s drive finding the net, and tipping a Rowling effort over with a fine leap before Mick Leahy gave him a simple task, heading straight into his hands.
The evergreen Raffaele Cretaro set up Sadlier for another attempt midway through the first period, but a teasing shot fell foul of the upright and was cleared at the expense of a corner. But Sadlier’s cross had unexpected consequences a minute or so later when Foran misjudged the flight and rather than clearing as intended instead had to watch as the ball passed the stranded Cherrie, who had seemed to be in command.
And with that relief, Sligo were buoyed to strike again within two minutes, when Sadlier was again the provider, Ayunga’s effort from his cross parried but only as far as Kenny, who fired into the roof of the net. Now it was Bray’s turn to pepper the opposition area with goal attempts, Mark Salmon firing wide just after the half hour before working forward again, this time to feed Greene who also missed the target.
But once more it was a set-piece that proved valuable for the Seagulls, McCabe stepping up after Leahy was cautioned to shoot to the top right corner from just outside the area. With the sides level, Sligo tried once more to break the deadlock, Leahy, Sadlier and Kenny all attacking unsuccessfully before the break. On the resumption, though, it was Bray who showed first, Greene going close with a shot from distance four minutes in, but after Russell’s shot when he beat Kevin Lynch into a dangerous position was well held by Cherrie, yet another set-piece came to the hosts’ aid.
Sadlier judged the flight of his free well, and it curled just over the Bray wall before flying into the net. Dylan Connolly had a go within two minutes of his side falling behind, but Sligo keeper Shaun Patton was equal to it, and the netminder was kept a little busier in the next phase of the game, Greene threatening after a good run on his left. McCabe might have made it three when a Lynch corner was deflected out to him, but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
Patton had to look sharp to find Anto Flood’s low effort shortly after the hour when Liam Martin scuffed a clearance, and would have been stretched to claim Greene’s next attempt had Leahy not got in the way. Bray sub Conor Earley and Sligo’s Ayunga then traded attempts, the latter’s finding only the side netting.
A brace of McCabe frees came to nothing, the first with twenty minutes left finding John Sullivan, but the Bray player failing to find the target, and the second mis-kicked clear by Adebayo-Rowling for a Bray corner. With less than ten minutes to go, Bray skipper Conor Kenna made an important interception when Sadlier tried to find Cretaro with a cross, and sub Ryan Brennan twice made speculative forays on Patton’s goal, one high and one narrowly wide.
The Sligo keeper needed attention after a clash with the Bray attack on the stroke of regulation time, but there was no magic bullet for the guests in the five minutes of time added.
Compiled by Mícheál Ó hUanacháin
Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie; 24 Ryan Robinson, 5 Derek Foran , 4 Conor Kenna (c), 19 Kevin Lynch; 5 John Sullivan; 16 Dylan Connolly , 8 Mark Salmon , 11 Gary McCabe ; 9 Aaron Greene, 20 Anthony Flood
Subs: 2 Hugh Douglas, 7 Ryan Brennan (for Sullivan 75), 11 Jason Marks, 12 Conor Earley (for Robinson 27), 17 Ger Pender (for Flood 82), 21 Tim Clancy, 93 Lee Steacy (gk)
Sligo Rovers: 16 Shaun Patton; 2 Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, 4 Michael Leahy , 5 Kyle McFadden, 12 Chris Kenny , 27 Liam Martin, 8 Craig Roddan, 18 John Russell, 11 Kieran Sadlier , 10 Raffaele Cretaro, 19 Jonah Ayunga
Subs: 1 Mícheál Schlingermann (gk), 7 Daniel Kearns (for Sadlier 83), 9 Matthew Stevens (for Cretaro 88), 14 Gary Boylan (for Kenny 88), 22 John Mahon, 24 Michael Place, 26 Jack Keaney
Referee: Paul Tuite