Friday, April 8, 2011

Seagulls Soar to Victory in Tallaght

Danny O'Connor proved Bray Wanderers' hero as his sublime sixth minute strike helped the Wicklow men register a deserved 1-0 victory over title holders Shamrock Rovers in their Airtricity League Premier Division clash at Tallaght Stadium.

The league leaders looked bright in the opening exchanges and should have broken the deadlock as early as the fifth minute but top scorer Gary Twigg shot wide from eight yards after excellent approach play from Gary McCabe and Pat Sullivan down the right-wing.

Bray took advantage of this let-off and took the lead a minute later after an intricate passing move involving Gary Dempsey and David Webster which culminated in a precise rising shot by O'Connor which flew past a flat-footed Alan Mannus from 20 yards.Dempsey and O'Connor were pulling the strings with great effect for the visitors and after another free-flowing move, Conor Murphy spurned a golden opportunity to double their lead midway through the half as his curled attempt from the edge of the penalty area was too close to Manus, who gathered easily.

Rovers suffered a further blow in the 37th minute when Twigg suffered a hamstring complaint and was replaced by Gary O'Neill, with a long-range Ronan Finn shot which cleared the crossbar the extent of their attacking ambitions as Bray entered the break with a deserved lead.

The second-half continued in a similar vein with Rovers enjoying the bulk of possession but struggling to create any chances of note with manager Michael O'Neill attempting to address this situation with the introduction of Karl Sheppard on 58 minutes.

The substitution failed to have the desired effect as Bray looked far more threatening and both Murphy and Chris Shields could have added a second a minute either side of the hour mark following lightning counter-attacks.

There was a surprising lack of urgency about Rovers' attempts to drag themselves back into contention and the closest they came to drawing level was a 79th minute header from substitute Dean Kelly which drifted wide of the far post.

There were a few minor scares for the visitors in the remaining ten minutes but they defended with great conviction and claimed the precious three points on offer with a large degree of comfort to copper-fasten their mid-table position.