Rovers rock Seagulls
SHAMROCK ROVERS had to come from behind to keep their title dreams on track at Tallaght Stadium last Saturday night.
The Dubliners fell behind to a Dave Webster goal early in the first half but a superb second half-performance saw Michael O’Neill’s side claim all three points and keep the pressure on league leaders Bohemians.
A point is all that separates the two Dublin sides at the top of the table but it is the other end of the table where Bray Wanderers find themselves.
Eddie Gormley opted for a 4-5-1 formation for this clash with Dane Massey playing in an unfamiliar central midfield but 15 minutes after kick-off it looked like the Bray boss had got his tactics spot on.
Dane Massey pinged in a corner from the right which John Flood flicked on at the near post. Gareth Coughlan, in for Jake Kelly, met it at the far stick but his header was blocked on the line by Barry Johnston. Johnston and co. were powerless to prevent Dave Webster rifling the ball into the roof of the net from six yards. A perfect start for the Seagulls and the travelling fans were dreaming of a possible second win in the Hoops’ backyard this season.
That second win wasn’t going to come easily though and Bray faced an onslaught from the home side before the half-time break.
First Pat Sullivan made a surging run from right back before receiving the ball and delivering to Padraig Amond whose spectacular scissors kick was only inches wide.
Three minutes later Bray failed to clear their lines after a Ross Chisholm corner and it was left to Dane Massey to save his side when he cleared off the line from Gary Twigg’s close-range effort.It was Wanderers’ captain Derek Pender’s turn to save the day the day next when he cleared off the line after Amond had beaten O’Connor.
And then on the stroke of half-time another Chisholm corner caused problems in the visitors’ penalty area and after countless chances within seconds of each other for Rovers, Bray somehow scrambled it away. Somebody must have been looking down on Bray from above but surely they couldn’t withstand this kind of pressure for another 45 minutes could they?
The answer to that question arrived 10 minutes into the second half when a quickly taken corner kick proved to be the Wicklow side’s undoing.
Pat Sullivan played the flag-kick to substitute Sean O’Connor who crossed into the box with his very first touch of the game. The ball then broke to Stephen Rice at the back post and he had the time and space to drill it home from eight yards.
With the three points now a rapidly fading dream for Bray, a single point would have been the target but Gary Twigg, the league’s top scorer, had other ideas.
Just 12 minutes after seeing their lead relinquished, Bray was staring at their 14th league defeat of the season thanks to Tallaght’s favourite son.
O’Connor was once again the man claiming the assist when he sent in a cross from the left that a stretching Chris Deans couldn’t clear and it fell perfectly for Twigg who did what he does best by nodding it past Chris O’Connor for his 20th league goal of the season.
But the Scottish sensation wasn’t done quite yet and he grabbed a second six minutes later to kill off the brave Bray challenge. Stephen Bradley’s cross was nodded down to Twigg by O’Connor and Twigg quickly adjusted his body before firmly volleying it beyond the Australian goalkeeper once more.
Twigg did have a chance to bag his second hat-trick of the season on 90 minutes but he blazed over after being set up by former Republic of Ireland international Graham Barrett. He is only human after all.
Eddie Gormley’s young charges can be proud of their effort in this one and they certainly can’t afford to feel sorry for themselves ahead of Friday’s huge six-pointer against Drogheda United at the Carlisle Grounds.