Seagulls fail to soar as Bohs clip their wings
WHILE BOHEMIANS' off-field activities have dominated the column inches in recent months, the Dalymount Park side let their feet do the talking on Friday night as they got their league campaign off to winning ways at Bray Wanderers' expense.
2,500 people flocked to the Carlisle Grounds to see Jake Kelly score the first goal of the 2011 Airtricity League season from the penalty spot after 20 minutes.
The lead only lasted 11 minutes though when Bohemians hit back with a penalty of their own; Christie Fagan sending Matt Gregg the wrong way after Daire Doyle had brought down Lee Dixon.
Gregg was picking the ball out of the back of his net again eight minutes later when a sensational Killian Brennan freekick flew into the top corner.
A superb, flowing counter attack in the 65th minute saw Anto Flood tap in his first goal in Bohs' colours after great build-up play from Fagan and Stephen Traynor.
Wanderers had a chance to reduce their arrears in the 69th minute when John Mulroy was felled in the penalty area but Kelly failed to double his tally as his effort crashed back off the crossbar.
And the Dubliners comfortably saw out the remainder of the match to claim their first victory of the season.
Bray - and in particular Adam Mitchell - almost started the season in tragic fashion. Owen Heary's header out of defence caught Mitchell cold and Fagan raced onto it and surged towards goal. With just Gregg left to beat, the former Manchester United youngster tried to take it around the shot-stopper but Gregg got a very important toe to the ball and Daire Doyle completed the clearance.
The visitors came close again in the eighth minute. Brennan's right wing corner was hooked goalwards by Flood and the striker's improvised effort was just inches away from creeping into the top corner.
Wanderers hit back in the 16th minute with a chance of their own from a corner. Debutant Joe Kendrick's superb delivery found Danny O'Connor and the Bray captain's header was superbly stopped by keeper Craig Sexton. A mad scramble ensued, but Bohs eventually managed to clear their lines.
Bohs defence may have been frenetic on that occasion, but it was suicidal three minutes later. Kendrick swung over another corner to the back post where Ger O'Brien struck the ball with his left hand under pressure from O'Connor.
And Kelly got off the mark for the season when he rifled the spot-kick into the roof of the net.
The Seasiders' celebrations were cut short though with Bohs equalising from the spot soon after, but it was a hotlydisputed penalty. Lee Dixon played a clever one-two with Fagan, skipping past Doyle as he did so. The 30-year old then lunged in on Dixon, sending him crashing to the floor and Tom Connolly pointed to the spot for the second time in ten minutes, but the foul seemed to have been committed outside the penalty area.
Penalty or no penalty, Fagan sent Gregg the wrong way to level matters.
And it quickly went from bad to worse for Pat Devlin's side when Brennan slammed his 20-yard free-kick into the top corner of the net eight minutes later.
A sweeping counter-attack in the 65th minute then gave Fenlon's side a two-goal cushion. Dixon led the charge before spraying the ball out to Fagan on the right flank. The man of the match slipped a pass into Stephen Traynor in the penalty area and he quickly shipped it on to Anto Flood who swept home from ten yards.
There was to be one final thrill at the Carlisle Grounds though. Chris Shields found substitute John Mulroy on the right flank, he squeezed past two opponents as he dribbled into the box and then he was caught by O'Brien as he looked to skip by him. Same offender, different end, and a different result, with Kelly's second penalty leaving the crossbar rattling rather than the back of the net bulging.
Top Form: Christie Fagan (Bohemians): You'll hear plenty more about this man as the season progresses.
Graham Kelly of Bray Wanderers closes in on Ollie Cahill of Bohemians.
Joe Kendrick of Bray Wanderers is chased by the impressive Christie Fagan of Bohemians.