Wanderers battle back to earn share of spoils
Shamrock Rovers 2, Bray Wanderers 2: After falling behind to two Pádraig Amond goals early in the second half, even the most optimistic of Seagull’s fans would have feared the worst.
But there is a new confidence in this rejuvenated Bray side and buoyed on by their fans, they fought back to claim a point thanks to Gareth Coughlan’s first goal for the club a minute after falling 2-0 behind and a superb Alan Cawley free kick nine minutes from time.
He may have been named in Pat Fenlon’s Republic of Ireland U-23 squad the day before but Ger Rowe had to be content with a place on the bench as Gormley made changes to the side from the Bohemians game, replacing Rowe with Myler. Phillip Knight had impressed enough to be included from the start at Gary Cronin’s expense, while Derek Pender who had been suspended for that clash replaced the now suspended Robson, meaning Gavin Whelan returned to the centre of midfield. The formation also changed with Kelly operating on the left flank and Mark Duggan dropping into the holding midfield role.
All Gormley’s plans nearly came undone with just three minutes on the clock when Pender’s challenge just two yards from the penalty area was deemed a foul and worthy of a yellow card. Cameroonian Joseph Ndo stepped up and his fantastic curling effort came back off the crossbar with Alan Gough beaten. Gough was alert however to dive on Danny O’Connor’s weak shot from the rebound.
On 10 minutes Rover’s goalkeeper Robert Duggan was forced into a save after Pender drilled a left footed effort from 20 yards right down his throat but he was alert and beat it away.
Midway through the first half then and Ndo showed some class when he was stuck in an extremely congested area before working his way into space and spreading a lovely ball out into Ger O’Brien’s path. O’Brien burst onto the ball and went past his man with ease before sending a dangerous low cross into the area. Fortunately for Bray, Gough was aware of the danger and dived on the ball.
The first half may have come to a very slow end, but the second half started with a bang.
Ndo’s trickery was once again causing problems and as he tried to make his way into the box he spotted Amond and poked it through for him. The Republic of Ireland U-21 man didn’t hesitate in beating Gough to give Rovers the lead.
Then just two minutes later Gavin Whelan spurned a golden chance to equalize for Bray.
Pender’s free kick was flicked on by Andy Myler and the ball fell kindly for Whelan only a few yards out but his effort was kept out by a fantastic reflex save from the ‘keeper.
It was then the Hoops turn to miss a sitter and the man responsible was Eoin Doyle. A long ball was delicately flicked into his path and he raced onto it and from just 10 yards out, dragged his shot wide.
With 65 minutes gone though, the Dublin side did take their chance to double the lead after Doyle turned provider when his left wing cross found Amond and his firm header flew into the Bray net.
Only the most optimistic of Bray Wanderers supporters would have felt they were still in with a chance of any points but the Bray players certainly felt they had.
One of the oldest sayings in football is that you are most vulnerable just after you have scored and Pat Scully learned this the hard way.
Only a minute after going two down, Gareth Coughlanwho had only been on the field three minutes- went on a marauding run down the right and cut inside before nestling the ball into the far corner of the net and suddenly it was game on.
Bray created two more great chances on 74 minutes but were somehow denied on both occasions.
Alan Cawley sent in a corner form the right that fell for Rowe 12 yards out. Rowe blasted at goal but Ger O’Brien blocked on the line. The rebound fell for Rowe and once again he had a pop but this time Bray man Danny O’Connor was there to clear.
The second goal did come for Bray however with nine minutes remaining.
Rowe was brought down 25 yards from goal and Cawley, who has failed to impress in recent times, cured the ball majestically beyond Robert Duggan and Bray were returning with a well deserved and hard earned point.
Man of the Match: Pádraig Amond (Shamrock Rovers). Took his goals well.
Bray’s Andy Myler is dispossessed by Pat Sullivan of Shamrock Rovers.