Wanderers U-15s pounce for Precious winner
BRAY WANDERERS 2 WEXFORD FC 1
BRAY Wanderers rode their luck as they came from behind to pinch glory in this exhilirating SSE Airtricity League quarter-final clash at the Carlisle Grounds.
The young ‘Gulls fell behind after 19 minutes on Sunday and they had goalkeeper Sean Coffey to thank for keeping the deficit at a single goal as he produced a fine penalty save.
Wanderers leveller caused uproar amongst the visitors as Festy Ebosele’s strike was initally saved by Youths shot-stopper Cian Browne.
The reboud spun dangerously towards goal and Browne batted it away but referee Paula Brady deemed it to have crossed the line.
With extra-time looming, Bray stole it at the death, with Precious Omochere volleying home in the dying seconds.
Wexford Youths were deeply unhappy at the final whistle - unhappy that the first goal for Bray was awarded, unhappy that Brady played so much injury time which produced the winner and unhappy at her decision not to dismiss Ebosele for what they were convinced were two bookable offences.
In the first-half, Youths were exceptional, outwitting and outplaying the talented Bray side.
They absorbed the home pressure and broke with pace and positivity.
That’s how they went ahead after 19 minutes, as Brody Murphy surged into the Bray half before supplying James Dowling to finish into the top right corner.
Evan Farrell had popped one well over in the early exchanges, but that was the first real opportunity for either side.
When the chance came for Wexford to double their lead from the spot, Levingston bravely stepped forward. At that moment, one felt that the visitors had done a job on Bray.
In typical underdog style they had stifled them and they were going to take their chances as they came.
The Gorey man’s spot-kick was by no means a bad one, but the height rather than the direction allowed Seán Coffey to palm away and halt Wexford’s onslaught.
The second-half will be a painful memory for Wexford for some time.
It was so painful because of the nature of the goals. Ebosele’s strike, initially saved by Cian Browne, bounced towards the goal before the Yellowbelly ‘keeper recovered and batted it away.
The argument of whether it crossed the line ensued and we may never know for sure, but while Brady was hesitant, her linesman was convinced and Bray were on terms.
In between Bray’s two strikes, it was as open as it was all game. Brian Byrne had two golden chances, with one saved while the other crept under the ‘keeper but into the side-netting.
Bray went close too, as Alan Leonard and Precious Omochere both forced saves from Browne.
As the game ticked on Ebosele walked the tightrope, booked for a previous badly-timed lunge, he booted the ball away from Browne as he looked to take a quick free.
Brady, with all her experience of refereeing at the highest level, somehow failed to produce the game-changing second yellow.
Brady was in the spotlight again for the winner. As the game entered the 83rd minute questions were being asked as to whether three minutes of injury time was warranted.
With the ball in the middle of the pitch, she checked her watch and brought the whistle to her lips, ready to send the game into extra-time.
But she didn’t blow. Wanderers passed forward and she allowed Bray to continue their attack.
Precious Omochere latched onto an outswinging cross and volleyed into the top corner after his initial header was cleared by Kyle Scallan.
Wexford barely had time to tip off and boot the ball forward before the whistle was blown.
It was the cruellest of finales for the Ferrycarrig boys to take, but Bray Wanderers had dug deep and sourced a winner against the odds.
Bray will face an unbeaten St. Patrick’s Athletic in the semi-final, and the winners will meet Athlone Town or Finn Harps for the title.
Destiny Idele of Bray Wanderers is closed down by Graham O’Reilly of Wexford F.C., with netminder Cian Browne alert at his near post.