Waterford FC 2 Bray Wanderers 2
Bray extended their unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions so far in the 2023 season by battling back from 2-0 down to earn a draw away to ten-man Waterford.
The Munster side scored twice in a 90-second spell on Saturday afternoon to lead 2-0 by the 22nd minute at the RSC.
But the Seagulls showed real character to pull one back on the stroke of half time through birthday boy Ben Feeney before Max Murphy’s spectacular first goal for the club completed the comeback to make it five this SSE Airtricity First Division games without defeat.
The match was littered with yellow cards which included Wanderers Head Coach Ian Ryan for disputing the Blue’s first score which had a large hint of offside about it.
Then home manager Danny Searle saw red with ten minutes of normal time remaining.
From the team who’d drawn last week at home to Longford Town, both Feeney and Luka Lovic were handed their first league starts of the campaign.
On the bench, both Chris Lyons and Ger Shortt made their returns from injury.
The hosts hit the front with a controversial 20th minute opener.
Ryan Burke drilled in a low effort from the left that was deflected into the path of ex-Bray player Ronan Coughlan who tapped in. But the striker appeared to be offside. However, no flag came.
In the 22nd minute, Dane Massey was adjudged to have brought down Chris Conn-Clarke in the box. Coughlan then converted the spot-kick.
The Blue’s had Conn-Clarke yellow carded for a 23rd minute foul on Lovic.
The same player then saw red on 28 for another tackle on Joe Power as the tie turned.
Moments later, Power rattled the cross-bar with a thunderous free-kick.
But in first half stoppage time, the Wicklow side got back into the contest.
Power’s corner was cleared back to him. His second delivery was cleared. It come to Murphy 20-yards out to hit a fierce effort through a crowded area. Eddie Nolan made a goal-line block. However, Feeney marked his 20th birthday by tucking in the rebound.
It took a scrambled save by home custodian John Martin to Cole Omorehiomwan’s glancing header on 56 off Power’s free. The netminder then pulled off another save to thwart the defenders header from Power’s corner that followed.
The Seasiders though were back on level terms in the 75th minute with a goal of the season contender.
Power’s corner was headed clear by Nolan. It came to Murphy 30-yards out. He then arched a stunning right footed shot that nestled in the top left hand corner of the net.
Yet, in the second minutes of stoppage time, Waterford almost won the tie. But Shane Griffin’s attempt came crashing back off the post.
Waterford FC: Paul Martin; Darragh Power, Giles Phillips, Eddie Nolan, Ryan Burke; Niall O’Keeffe, Shane Griffin, Barry Baggley (Tunmise Sobowale 59); Roland Idowu, Chris Conn-Clarke, Ronan Coughlan (Thomas Oluwa 71).
Subs not used: Connor Parsons, Charles Ondo, Killian Cantwell, Dean McMenamy, Wassim Aouachria, Dean Larkin, Thomas Donaghy
Booked: Baggley 52, Martin 63, Idowu 79, Phillips 84, O’Keeffe 90 + 3, Oluwa 90 + 4.
Sent off: Conn-Clarke (booked 23 and 28), Danny Searle 79.
Bray Wanderers: Alex Moody; Eoin Farrell (Len O’Sullivan half time), Cole Omorehiomwan, Dane Massey, Max Murphy; Conor Crowley (Gerard Shortt half time), Luka Lovic (Chris Lyons 66), Harry Groome, Joseph Power (Guillermo Almirall 89); Ben Feeney, Jake Walker (Conor Davis 89),
Subs not used: Jack Hudson, Callum Thompson, Conor Knight, Stephen McGuinness.
Booked: Ian Ryan 19, Omorehiomwan 25, Lorcan Fitzgerald half time, Murphy 79.
Referee: David Connolly (Kilkenny).