Monday, September 20, 2010

Wanderers revival continues

Bray Wanderer's Lazarus-like recovery continued as they made it three Airtricity League Premier Division wins in a four-game unbeaten run as they beat Dundalk at the Carlisle Grounds.

And in the process, the Seagulls moved four points clear of relegation rivals Drogheda United after beating Dundalk for the third time this season.

Astonishingly, the Seagulls have now amassed 13 points in their last six top-flight fixtures - three points more than they'd earned in their previous 20 league games.

After wins over Shamrock Rovers and Drogheda United, the result still leaves Dundalk in the play-off mix as they are just five points clear of both UCD and Galway United.Having been pinned back for the opening stages at the Carlisle Grounds, Wanderers broke the dead-lock in the 18th minute.

Gary Dempsey whipped over a left-wing corner and centre-half Derek Prendergast rose at the back post to power in a stunning header.

Dundalk best chance of the half came in the 33rd minute when Simon Madden's ball from the right flank came all the way across to Ross Gaynor but the winger blazed his 20-yard half-volley high and over.

Bray's decision to play 16-goal top-scorer Jake Kelly back-fired. The recent Irish U23 call-up lasted just 38 minutes after succumbing to his recent hamstring complaint.

On the stroke half time, his replacement Chris Shields latched onto a loose ball on the right of the box and picked out the run of Shane O'Neill.

From six-yards, he tried to place the ball into the far bottom corner. But Peter Cherrie pulled off a wonderful save, diverting the ball onto the crossbar with his outstretched leg and out for a corner.

With the next goal always going to be crucial, it went the way of Wanderers as O'Neill matched Kelly in the scoring stakes in all competitions.

Danny O'Connor was involved three times, linking with both Mulroy and Shields. He then danced his way into the penalty area only to find his route blocked. But O'Neill pounced to swivel a low left foot shot from ten yards beyond Cherrie to the net.

Bray should have put the result to bed in the 71st minute. They broke from their own box with O'Neill nodding into Shields' path.

He switched play out right to the breaking Mulroy and the former Irish Schools player of the year cut inside a defender but curled wide from 16-yards.

There appeared to be a sting in the tail though for Pat Devlin's revitalised team.

Sean Houston was dismissed in the 85th minute for a second yellow card when he brought down Ireland Under-21 winger Daniel Kearns.

But the former Dundalk custodian Matt Gregg dived to his left to keep out Matthew Tipton's penalty and Bray held on for victory.