Wan­der­ers see off Athlone

Bray People - - SPORTS - DANIEL GOR­MAN

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.

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