Wanderers see off Athlone
BRAY WANDERERS struck very early and very late as they advanced to the last eight of the Leinster Senior Cup at the expense of Athlone Town on Thursday night.
Shane O’Neill got his side off to the perfect start when he struck with the match barely even two minutes old and Jake Kelly netted the winner three minutes from time after O’Neill’s effort had been cancelled out by an Austin Skelly penalty.
The hosts found themselves in dreamland when with just over two minutes gone Shane O’Neill scored what Seagulls fans will hope will be the first of many goals this season, and it came straight out of the Rory Delap school of thinking.
Captain Daire Doyle launched a throw in into the penalty area and Dean Zambra, one of the smallest men on the field, got the merest of touches to the ball. O’Neill’s late run was timed to perfection and he arrived in the nick of time to stroke home Zambra’s flick on. Simplicity at its finest.
Wanderers a decent chance to double their lead on 20 minutes from a free kick after midfielder Chris Shields had been fouled to the right hand side of the penalty area.
Jake Kelly sprayed a fine ball out right for Shields and the number seven skipped by Eoin O’Shea, who chopped him down. The defender picked up a booking for his troubles but escaped further punishment when goalkeeper Chris Bennion dived to his right to palm away Kelly’s free kick.
The Seagulls had been well on top for the opening quarter of the match and Bray goalkeeper Brian Kane had been little more than a spectator but in the 26th minute they found themselves on level peggings with their First Division opponents.
Daire Doyle, the home side’s most experienced player on the pitch by some distance, showed his young team-mates how not to defend in the penalty area when he needlessly pulled down Austin Skelly to give a away a penalty when, in truth, Skelly was going nowhere. Skelly didn’t object though and it was he who took the spot kick, stuttering in his runup before sending Kane the wrong way from 12 yards. Chris Shields had a glorious opportunity to restore his side’s lead 10 minutes later when John Mulroy’s cutback from the right found its way through to the ginger haired youngster but his placed effort clipped the far post before going wide.
After the break Jake Kelly began reigning efforts in on Bennion’s goal, sending three shots narrowly wide of the Scot’s goal before forcing him into a neat save in the 69th minute. Kelly then almost created the game’s third goal when his left-wing cross was flicked goalwards by Shane O’Neill but Eoin O’Shea cleared the ball out for a corner.
With extra time looming both sides upped their games as they searched for a late winner but the closest Athlone Town came to one was when Robert Farrell’s overhead kick from Richie O’Hanlon’s corner went wide of Brian Kane’s near post.
But then with the full time whistle approaching, Wanderers got the second goal that their performance had deserved.
Chris Shields spotted Shane O’Neill’s run in behind the Athlone defence and played the ball into his feet. O’Neill then attempted to round Bennion before deciding to lay the ball out to Kelly kept his composure to drill the ball low into the corner of the net with Bennion in no-mans land.