Wan­der­ers put five past Wex­ford FC

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT -

AS things stand, it look like Bray Wan­der­ers will be all dressed up but with nowhere to go come the sea­son’s end.

The Seag­ulls hit Wex­ford FC for five on Fri­day - the sec­ond time Cronin’s side have struck five this term - but with all other promotion ri­vals also col­lect­ing three points; it might all count for noth­ing.

Philip Gannon, Bran­don McCann and John Martin - from the cen­tre cir­cle - all reg­is­tered their first goals for the Co. Wick­low club as they picked off a mis­er­able home side in front of 262 sup­port­ers. Paul Kee­gan and Dy­lan McGlade were also on tar­get as Bray made light work of their south-east ri­vals.

The sole two cor­ners of the open­ing half were won at an early stage by Bray and didn’t amount to any­thing, but the vis­i­tors were gifted their first goal on their next at­tack.

De­fender Luke Nolan lofted a long cross to­wards the far post, and Dean Wil­liams was need­lessly pushed in the back by Ricky Fox for a cast-iron penalty.

Cap­tain Paul Kee­gan stepped up to dis­patch the spot-kick low to Cham­bers’ right, and Bray were on their way.

Danny Fur­long did force Gabriel Sava into a save be­fore Seán Roche lost posses­sion in a dan­ger­ous area at the other end, lead­ing to a Derek Daly cross and a turn and shot by Wil­liams that Cham­bers had to deal with.

The sec­ond Wan­der­ers goal in the 17th minute was sim­ple in its ex­e­cu­tion, but the Wex­ford defence re­ally should have done bet­ter.

Winger Jake El­lis de­liv­ered a cross from the right, with the ball headed down by Dean Wil­liams into the path of McCann who took his chance with aplomb.

The re­sponse from the home side to that lat­est set­back was non-ex­is­tent, and it was no sur­prise to see Bray ef­fec­tively wrap­ping up the points as early as the 25th minute with goal num­ber three.

And it was a truly spec­tac­u­lar ef­fort, one of the best fin­ishes seen on these shores in a long time, and the per­fect way for John Martin to an­nounce him­self to the Bray faith­ful af­ter his re­cent ar­rival on loan from Premier Divi­sion Water­ford.

Danny Fur­long gave the ball away in the cen­tre cir­cle and seemed to ad­mon­ish him­self rather than try­ing to re­trieve it. Martin was just in­side the op­po­si­tion half and looked up to spot Corey Cham­bers off his line, but his shot still had to be de­liv­ered with dead-eye ac­cu­racy to beat the net­min­der from that range.

He couldn’t have hit it any sweeter, and even the Wex­ford fans had to ad­mire the au­dac­ity of a sub­lime fin­ish that un­der­lined the player’s ob­vi­ous qual­ity.

Lee Costello was booked for hold­ing Dean Wil­liams as he tried to latch on to a long ball, while Seán Heaney made a su­perb saving tackle as Danny Fur­long and Thomas Croke at­tempted to link up at the other end.

Bran­don McCann of Bray was next to en­ter the note­book for a foul on Shane Grif­fin, and the half ended with a flurry of goals, one at ei­ther end.

Wex­ford’s was of the com­i­cal va­ri­ety, ar­riv­ing in the 44th minute in the form of an un­ex­pected gift from Bray’s best player.

Paul Kee­gan was put un­der un­nec­es­sary pres­sure, to be fair, when Gabriel Sava played the ball to him, and he scuffed his re­turn pass into the air to­wards the net­min­der who waited for the bounce near the edge of his box.

That was enough for Danny Fur­long to nip in and get the slight­est of touches to roll it to­wards a gap­ing net, bring­ing his tally for the sea­son to nine over­all, in­clud­ing four in the last three games.

The im­proved mood of home fans only lasted un­til 26 sec­onds into added time, and the fail­ure of the team to keep their goal in­tact be­fore the interval summed up the ab­ject na­ture of this per­for­mance.

John Martin was the provider on this oc­ca­sion, pass­ing to Dy­lan McGlade whose low shot from out­side the box nes­tled in the left corner of Corey Cham­bers’ net.

The sec­ond-half was a pretty pedes­trian af­fair as one would ex­pect in the cir­cum­stances, with Croke fir­ing over early on be­fore Seán Roche robbed Derek Daly but pulled his shot to the left and wide in the 59th minute.

The ex­pe­ri­enced Philip Gannon was in­tro­duced for Bray to re­place Bran­don McCann, and it cer­tainly bore the hallmark of an in­spired change from man­ager Gary Cronin as he scored with his first touch af­ter 68 sec­onds.

The move started down the left flank and fea­tured Dy­lan McGlade and Martin, with the lat­ter find­ing the new ar­rival in space just out­side the box.

Gannon had time to take a touch and then pick his spot with a com­posed fin­ish, putting Bray into a 5-1 lead af­ter 65 min­utes.

And that’s how it stayed, although one got the dis­tinct im­pres­sion that Wan­der­ers could have pushed on for more if they re­ally de­sired.

While Paul Kee­gan had a neg­a­tive part to play in that sole Wex­ford goal, that didn’t de­tract from the qual­ity of his over­all per­for­mance di­rectly in front of his back four.

The veteran’s will­ing­ness to work, in par­tic­u­lar his con­stant clos­ing down of op­po­nents, was some­thing the losers would do well to learn from, and it’s no sur­prise that part of his long club ca­reer was spent cross-chan­nel.

The only thing Wex­ford ‘won’ was the sec­ond-half corner count which was 2-0 in their favour, but nei­ther bore any fruit be­fore full­back Ricky Fox sent a shot from dis­tance to the left and wide.

A triple sub­sti­tu­tion on the 73-minute mark saw Conor English, John Peare and Danny Doyle en­ter the fray, and it was fol­lowed soon af­ter by a pretty reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence at this stage, with Thomas Croke booked once more for a late chal­lenge on Seán Heaney.

A Bray penalty ap­peal for an An­drew O’Con­nor tackle on Dean Wil­liams was turned down in the 78th minute, while cen­tre-half Dar­ragh O’Con­nor later cleared a John Martin header off the line.

The only time Gabriel Sava had to look busy was 20 sec­onds from the end of nor­mal time when he had to deal with a free-kick af­ter Paul Kee­gan was booked for hand­ball from a Shane Grif­fin shot.

The lat­ter stepped up to the set-piece and his low shot beat the wall, but Sava had his body be­hind it and made a solid save.

Bray’s Paul Kee­gan keeps tabs on Wex­ford FC’s Em­met Nu­gent.

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