Rovers end Bray’s purple patch
SHAMROCK ROVERS 2
McCabe (pen) 6; Heaney 57 BRAY WANDERERS 1
Scully (pen) 76 SHAMROCK ROVERS ended Bray Wanderers’ mini purple patch with an ugly win over the Seagulls on Monday evening.
Having been second best for 75 minutes, Alan Mathews’ side were given a ray of hope when Dave Scully netted from the penalty spot.
The visitors suddenly found inspiration from somewhere but could not find the goal to pinch a point from the Hoops, for whom Gary McCabe and Sean Heaney were on target.
A day after the anniversary of Jesus’ resurrection, Eric McGill and Adam Hanlon made their return to the starting line-up for Bray after nearly a month out of action.
Rovers almost made two changes to their side from their Good Friday outing and one of those alterations saw ex-Wanderers favourite Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters return to the fold.
And Waters had a hand in the Rovers opener after six minutes. He whipped in a corner kick from the left and Rovers left-back Sean Heaney went to ground under pressure from visiting captain Adam Mitchell. Derek Tomney pointed to the spot and Gary McCabe’s stuttered run-up left McGuinness muddled as he tucked away the 12-yarder.
Waters could have added to the hosts’ lead on 23 minutes as midfield magician Ronan Finn released the speed merchant but McGuinness managed to turn Waters’ vicious drive onto the post.
Waters then turned provider, slipping a pass through for Ciaran Kilduff. The striker sailed past Niall Cooney with ease but McGuinness provided a sterner obstacle; charging out of his goal to make the block.
Finn’s showcased more sublime passing as he picked the ball up inside the centre circle and sprayed an inch perfect pass beyond Mitchell and Kilduff. The latter brushed the former aside but McGuinness had again raced out and hacked clear before Kilduff could pick his spot.
McGuinness almost ruined all his good work shortly before the break when he played his pass straight to McCabe. The winger tried to curl the ball into the empty net but Niall Cooney was on the cover and managed to head the ball away to bail out his goalkeeper.
The Kilcoole shot-stopper was beaten again in the 57th minute though. McCabe bended in a corner and this time, Heaney was not hauled to the ground and instead he delightfully guided a header into the top corner.
With Rovers clearly feeling the game was won, Hoops boss Trevor Croly made two changes; sending on Robert Bayly and Eamon Zayed and the latter almost scored with his first touch, only for Eric McGill to charge back and make a vital interception as he headed behind.
Simon Madden then handed the Seagulls a route back into the tie. David Cassidy fizzed in a cross from the right and as he went to contest it, Ismahil Akinade was floored by Madden. With Graham Kelly having been replaced by Gary Curran two minutes earlier, Scully took the responsibility and his smash down the middle did the trick and suddenly Wanderers could sniff a point.
With Adam Mitchell deployed up front as an emergency striker, Bray squandered a levelling chance with two minutes of normal time remaining.
Cassidy’s volleyed cross was nodded on by Mitchell and broke for Cooney but the centre half could not get the required power on his header and it dropped harmlessly for Murphy to collect.
Mitchell was again in the spotlight when he ended up on the floor after Hanlon’s corner kick but despite the pleas of the defender, Mathews and Barry O’Connor, Tomney waved play on.
Rovers would have ended the match on a high note had it not been for McGuinness. A wasted pass from Hanlon allowed Waters to race into the Bray half. He prodded the ball through for McCabe but when he shot, McGuinness flew to his right and pulled off the save.
Next up for the flying McGuinness and the Seagulls is second placed Dundalk at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday evening.
Top Form: Stephen McGuinness (Bray Wanderers): Denied Shamrock Rovers on several occasions with some superb saves.
BRAY WANDERERS (4-4-1-1)
32. Stephen McGuinness; 6. Eric McGill, 12. Niall Cooney, 5. Adam Mitchell, 22. Rob Maloney; 19. Dave Scully, 24. Graham Kelly, 16. Dean Zambra, 11. Adam Hanlon; 8. David Cassidy; 9. Ismahil Akinade. SUBS: Gary Curran for G. Kelly (74); Ciaran Byrne for Akinade (78); Shane O’Neill for Scully (85). Not used: Shane Redmond, Jamie McGlynn, Michael Brown, Sean Hurley.
SHAMROCK ROVERS (4-3-3)
1. Barry Murphy; 17. Simon Madden, 2. Rob Cornwall, 5. Jason McGuinness, 23. Sean Heaney; 18. Shane Robinson, 21. Ronan Finn, 37. Stephen McPhail; 7. Gary McCabe, 31. Ciaran Kilduff, 11. Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters. SUBS: Robert Bayly for McPhail (63); Eamon Zayed for Kilduff (68); Karl Sheppard for Finn (75). Not used: Craig Hyland, Luke Byrne, David O’Connor, Ryan Brennan. Tallaght Stadium
Derek Tomney VENUE: REFEREE:
Once were colleagues - Ismahil Akinade and Marty Waters faced each other as opponents on Monday night as Bray travelled to take on Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Mick Tierney.
Bray’s Dean Zambra whips in a cross despite the efforts of Simon Madden of Shamrock Rovers.