FIVE-STAR BLUES ROMP TO VICTORY
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.