Bray in superb form as they outclass Longford Town
BRAY WANDERERS LONGFORD TOWN
BRAY WANDERERS outplayed, outworked and outclassed Longford Town on Friday evening as they got their challenging week off to the perfect start.
Having dominated the first period, the Seagulls got their reward in the second period as Sean McEvoy (2) and Gary Shaw found the net to maintain Bray’s lead at the top of the pile.
Gary Cronin’s men were all brilliant and the work-rate was inspiring as they secured their 19th point from the last 21 available.
It was an extremely lively start for this heavyweight clash and perhaps the adrenaline got the better of Lee Steacy as he charged 15 yards off his line to get John Ross Wilson’s deep cross but he was beaten to it by Gary Shaw. Thankfully for Steacy, Shaw’s header dropped wide.
Longford’s defence then seemed to go asleep and when Shaw beat his man to a long ball to flick on, they were in trouble. Ryan Graydon collected it and beat his man, his blast then beat the goalkeeper but cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar and moments later Graydon nodded wide as Wilson kept the chance alive with his cross.
A corner kick from Dylan Barnett sailed over everybody’s heads but found Shaw unmarked beyond the back stick. He tried to take it down but was crowded out of it and Longford survived. Steacy was not impressed however as he roared at his defenders to buck up their ideas.
Another Barnett flag kick led to another opportunity and this one was so agonisingly close to being the opener. Aaron Barry met it with his head and it was flying straight to the back of the net until Joe Gorman nodded it off the line.
The waves of Bray attacks did not relent. Jack Watson, operating in the defensive midfield role, brilliantly sniffed out and won an interception and then played a delightful, hidden pass to Lovic. He assessed his options before electing to take on the strike but it wasn’t the purest of hits, even if it took Steacy two attempts to get it in his hands.
Longford had a rare attack on 37 minutes. Graydon was penalised harshly as he tried to win the ball on the touchline.
Adam Evans pinged in a beaut of a pass with wicked pace and Rob Manley steered it goalwards but it sailed over.
Within a minute though, the one-way traffic resumed as Thompson beat his man. His low cross caused a brief game of pinball and it popped up to Lovic just 10 yards out but it would not settle for him and the defence managed to charge him down and scramble clear.
Longford thought they’d survived their latest scare when they cleared Bray’s 40th minute corner up to halfway. But Wilson floated it back into the penalty area to an unmarked Aaron Barry. He could only nod it back across goal and Shaw threw himself at it but the angle was very difficult and he
cleared the crossbar with his effort.
On the stroke of half time, Longford cleared their lines emphatically.
Aaron Barry had plenty of time to read it and get there and he launched a first-time pass out towards the right flank. Joe Manley gambled on intercepting but missed it so suddenly Thompson was in behind in a 3-on-2 situation. He decided to take it on himself but blazed over the bar much to his team-mates’ frustration.
Having hit the crossbar, had one cleared off the line and then spurned a glorious chance late on, the hosts were understandably frustrated at the break. But it took 30 seconds for those frustrations to wash away.
Graydon won possession back
and Thompson played a neat pass for the overlapping Lovic who found McEvoy with his centre from the right. McEvoy showed quick feet to prod it to the far corner.
On 63 minutes, Bray were celebrating once more. Again, a winger working hard and winning possession was the launchpad for the goal. This time Thompson took it from a Longford man and Cantwell played a raking pass forward for Graydon. He beat his man and slipped a lovely pass through to find the run of McEvoy who slotted past Steacy again.
Wanderers were in dreamland in the 69th minute when Barnett whipped in a corner and Shaw rose to expertly glance it home as Bray sent a message out to their title rivals.
Bray even had the luxury of
emptying their bench as the minutes wore on to rest the legs ahead of their trip to Cobh (report below) and their massive clash with Drogheda United on Friday. BRAY WANDERERS: Brian Maher; John Ross Wilson, Killian Cantwell, Aaron Barry, Dylan Barnett; Jack Watson; Callum Thompson, Sean McEvoy, Luka Lovic, Ryan Graydon; Gary Shaw. Subs: Joe Doyle for Watson (66); Derek Daly for Thompson (78); Darragh Lynch for Shaw (78); Paul Keegan for McEvoy (84); Tristan Noack Hoffman for Barnett (85). Not used: Adam Hayden, Marlon Marishta. LONGFORD TOWN: Lee Steacy; Michael McDonnell, Joe Gorman, Joe Manley; Shane Elworthy, Aodh Dervin, Dean Zambra, Adam Evans; Dylan Grimes, Rob Manley, Dean Byrne. Subs: Matthew O’Brien for Grimes (17); Karl Chambers for Zambra (H/T); Aaron McCabe for Byrne (70). Not used: Luke Dennison, Dylan Hand, Sam Verdon, Aaron McNally. REFEREE: Alan Carey