FIVE-STAR BLUES ROMP TO VIC­TORY

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - DANIEL GOR­MAN

FIRST Di­vi­sion cham­pi­ons elect Water­ford FC showed the dif­fer­ence that a bit of con­fi­dence makes at the Carlisle Grounds on Fri­day.

The Mun­ster men romped to a 0-5 suc­cess over Bray Wan­der­ers on an ex­per­i­men­tal night for Harry Kenny.

With noth­ing rid­ing on the re­sult, the Bray boss used the chance to try out a dif­fer­ent for­ma­tion but that par­tic­u­lar page could be torn out of the play­book by now judg­ing by the re­sult.

Only a minute had elapsed when Bray had the wood­work to thank for keep­ing their clean sheet in­tact as the hosts failed to deal with a ball into the box but in the en­su­ing scram­ble, Aaron Dri­nan’s scram­bled ef­fort re­bounded off the near post.

The dead­lock was bro­ken by the 11th minute. Paul Kee­gan spent an age wait­ing to de­liver a free kick from the right be­fore wickedly whip­ping in. Tim Clancy got a head to it but it landed at the feet of Dri­nan who slammed it home. An ex­tremely ir­ri­tated Cher­rie was left won­der­ing who was sup­posed to be mark­ing who.

It took un­til the 24th minute for Bray to con­struct a chance even half note­wor­thy. Gary McCabe picked out Karl Moore in space on the left. He killed the ball, waited for Kevin Lynch to over­lap and clev­erly slipped the ball be­tween two de­fend­ers to find his run. His low cross in­tended for Ger Pender was cut out and he skewed the re­bound wide from 20 yards.

Water­ford grabbed a sec­ond in the 27th minute when Dean Walsh won pos­ses­sion inside the Bray half and im­me­di­ately surged down the left.

He man­aged to wrig­gle a cross to the near post where Clancy smoth­ered San­der Puri’s at­tempted shot but Dri­nan was on hand to steer in the re­bound.

Puri wasn’t to be de­nied two min­utes later though as he wowed the few dozen in at­ten­dance with a fan­tas­tic strike from dis­tance. He’ll be hop­ing that Es­to­nian man­ager Martin Reim will have been pass­ing the Carlisle Grounds as that one went in.

Water­ford were al­most notch­ing again within two min­utes as a pass from the nor­mally re­li­able Hughie Dou­glas went astray. Paul Kee­gan in­ter­cepted and gob­bled up the space in front of him.

Un­able to re­sist it, he struck from dis­tance and Cher­rie took the sting out of the ini­tial ef­fort be­fore div­ing on the re­bound as Dri­nan sniffed around for his hat-trick.

Bray’s of­fen­sive play was summed up when Aaron Greene col­lec­tion pos­ses­sion 40 yards out. Pender was itch­ing to run in be­hind but in­stead, hav­ing spot­ted Ian McLough­lin slightly off his line, Green went for the Hol­ly­wood strike and it sailed into the Bray Bowl end.

Both Greene and McCabe picked up book­ings in the first half – no easy feat in a friendly – as their frus­tra­tion got the bet­ter of them.

Pender would reg­is­ter Bray’s only shot on tar­get of the open­ing pe­riod right on the stroke of half time. Lynch wan­dered in from the left and slipped a pass into Pender’s feet. He took one quick touch and un­leashed a snap­shot that was head­ing for the top cor­ner but McLough­lin had flung him­self to his left and he turned it away.

Harry Kenny revered to his tried and trusted 4-2-3-1 at the break and made three sub­sti­tu­tions but Wan­der­ers were blessed not to be 0-4 down by the 53rd minute.

Water­ford carved open the Bray de­fence with far too much ease and had num­bers over as Puri stared down back-up goal­keeper Lee Steacy. The deputy cus­to­dian spread him­self though and made the block much to the frus­tra­tion of Puri’s wait­ing team-mates.

For­mer Don­caster Rovers ace al­most smug­gled a fourth in as his 56th minute free from 30 yards bounced dan­ger­ously past the far post with Steacy look­ing more than a lit­tle con­cerned.

Water­ford had three sub­sti­tutes on the line wait­ing to en­ter when Dou­glas was pe­nalised for a foul 22 yards out. The visi­tors opted to wait to make those re­place­ments and it paid div­i­dends as Paul Kee­gan curled a beauty into the top cor­ner be­fore be­ing called ashore.

Bray’s young guns had swamped the pitch by now and Jake El­lis al­most pulled one back. Keith Buckley had ghosted in be­hind his man and laid it into El­lis’ feet. He snatched at the chance and it trick­led wide.

Water­ford won and scored a penalty via Dean Clarke to make it 0-5 and de­spite some pos­i­tive play late on from Jamie Ah­erne and Luke Ros­siter, Wan­der­ers couldn’t man­age a con­so­la­tion goal.

Bray Wan­der­ers: 1. Peter Cher­rie; 2. Hugh Dou­glas, 21. Tim Clancy, 19. Kevin Lynch; 6. Keith Buckley, 7. Ryan Bren­nan, 11. Gary McCabe, 22. Dar­ragh Noone, 10. Karl Moore; 17. Ger Pender, 9. Aaron Greene. SUBS: Lee Steacy for Cher­rie (H/T); Jason Marks for Moore (H/T); John Sul­li­van for Pender (H/T); Cavlin Rogers for Clancy (64); Jake El­lis for McCabe (64); Luke Ros­siter for Bren­nan (79); Shane Hef­fer­nan for Buckley (79).

Water­ford FC: 25. Ian McLough­lin; 11. An­thony McAlavey, 22. Kenny Browne, 17. Paddy Bar­rett, 32. Sean Heaney; 7. Dean O’Hal­lo­ran, 4. Paul Kee­gan, 16. Jack Lynch, 12. San­der Puri; 15. Dean Walsh; 23. Aaron Dri­nan. SUBS: David McDaid for Dri­nan (63); Owen Wall for Puri (63); Darryl Walsh for Kee­gan (63).

Venue: Carlisle Grounds, Bray.

Tim Clancy with a chance for Bray Wan­der­ers aearly in the sec­ond half as Water­ford’s Aaron Dri­nan tries to put the pres­sure on.

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