Wanderers fall at the first hurdle against Drogheda United
THE VERY first hurdle proved to be Bray Wanderers' downfall as they limped out of the EA Sports Cup on Monday night.
Pat Devlin's troops slumped to a 0-1 defeat at the hands of the Premier Division's basement side Drogheda United at the Carlisle Grounds on Monday evening. Devlin made six changes to his starting 11 from Friday's precious 0-1 victory over UCD at the Belfield Bowl as the Bray manager made it clear where his focus lies this season.
New signing Darren Quigley was thrown straight into the squad but the Greystones man had to settle for a place on the bench, with Brian Kane the man getting the nod in goals.
And Kane will be disappointed with his role in the only goal of the game, which arrived in the 61st minute.
Philip McDonagh whipped in a cross that Kane
BRAY WANDERERS 0 DROGHEDA UNITED 1
came for and failed to claim. The ball then hit Seán Houston and was trickling agonizingly towards the goal-line. But just as it looked like Houston would clear, Seán Skelly squeezed in to scramble the ball into the empty net.
The game started at a brisk pace and Dan McGuinness launched the move that almost produced the opener. He made a clever interception on half way and tried to pick out Graham Kelly's surging run through the middle. The pass was blocked but managed to find its way to Jake Kelly on the left flank and the winger sent in a sensational low cross that begged to be tapped in. An in-sliding Shane O'Neill was inches away from obliging and it took a wild Anthony Costigan clearance to deny Dean Zambra the chance to do so as the number seven arrived at the back post.
Costigan's clearance resulted in a corner for Bray, and Kendrick's delivery was helped out for another flag-kick. Dempsey took the set-piece this time but the Drogs defence didn't deal with it on this occasion but Kendrick sent his header back across the face of goal and wide.
Dempsey's dead ball expertise should have provided the deadlock breaker in the tenth minute. His peach of a cross from a free-kick was on a plate for Dane Massey but the stand-in centre half directed his close-range header straight into the arms of Steven Trimble.
The action then died down drastically for the remainder of the first period but Shane O'Neill did come close to snatching an opener two minutes prior to the half-time break.
Daire Doyle found McGuinness with a right wing throw in and the 18-year-old picked out his strike partner in the middle but O'Neill's glanced header was caught by Trimble.
The second half started in an equally sluggish fashion but then in the 61st minute United took the lead against the run of play.
The Seagulls almost pegged them back immediately when Gary Shaw - making his first appearance of the season after breaking his foot in January - met Dempsey's corner with a powerful header but it flew a couple of yards over the crossbar.
Pat Devlin's troops had another chance to draw themselves level in the 73rd minute after Houston was chopped down on the left wing. Dempsey pinged in another top delivery and this time it was met by Massey, but the defender was stretching and fell back as the ball made contact with his forehead; looping harmlessly over as a result.
Wanderers continued to camp in the Drogheda half and came close to gaining parity once more in the 83 d minute. Gary Dempsey's corner was cleared back out to the midfielder and he shipped it to McGuinness who lofted in a teasing cross that Trimble got to milliseconds before Shane O'Neill did. There was one final chance for the hosts when Nicky Byrne ventured forward for Dempsey's 92nd minute corner and although the centre half got a touch to it, he was unable to get any real power behind it and it was a simple gather for Drogs goalkeeper Steven Trimble.
Top Form: Dan McGuinness (Bray Wanderers): Worked tirelessly for the cause.
1. Brian Kane, 2. Daire Doyle, 3. Joe Kendrick (Booked), 4. Dave Webster (Booked), 5. Dane Massey, 6. Gary Dempsey, 7. Dean Zambra, 8. Graham Kelly (Booked), 9. Dan McGuinness, 10. Shane O'Neill (Booked), 11. Jake Kelly. SUBS: Gary Shaw for Doyle (45); Sean Houston for Kendrick (56); Nicky Byrne for Shaw (79). Not used: Darren Quigley, Adam Mitchell, Stephen Last, Sean Plunkett.
1. Steven Trimble, 2. Stephen Quigley, 3. Anthony Costigan, 4. Robert Kovacsevics, 5. Victor Ekanem, 6. Mark Nolan (Booked), 7. Stephen McCrossan, 8. Jack Flynn (Booked), 9. Sean Skelly, 10. Daragh Hanaphy, 11. Philip McDonagh. SUBS: David Freeman for Skelly (73); Daniel Corcoran for Hanaphy (85). VENUE: Carlisle Grounds, Bray. REFEREE: Damian Hancock (Dublin).