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Thursday 21 August 2014

Mathews confident for Sligo challenge

Published 12/03/2014 | 05:44

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Alan Mathews is enjoying a fruitful honeymoon period and he can see no reason why Sligo Rovers would have to burst his bubble.

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Following on from a point in Bray Wanderers' Premier Division opener against Limerick, the Seagulls secured their place in the second round of the EA Sports Cup courtesy of a barmy 2-5 victory over Shelbourne that saw Jake Kelly net an extra time hat-trick.

There is a minor case of the what-might-have-beens for Mathews as he recalls Friday's 0-0 stalemate in Thomond Park but the Carlisle Grounds boss has declared himself very satisfied with a point and a clean sheet.

"I think on another night we would've won the game. For our first outing together, it was a good performance and I think we certainly created a lot of problems for them in the first half. They had a little spell in the second half where they got on top but we weathered it well. Overall, I was pleased to keep a clean sheet and take a point. On another night we may have won it but a draw was probably a fair result."

Two red cards were produced in that clash, one for Bray's David Cassidy and one for Limerick's Shane Duggan. Unlike most football managers, Mathews sided with the referee on both counts.

"Dave Cassidy was definitely. It was a silly challenge, a rash challenge and it gave the referee no option. Shane Duggan – two yellow cards, you just can't get yourself into the position where you make it easy for the referee to get rid of you and I think that's what he did. But for our one, it was a rash challenge and he had to go."

The Co. Wicklow club were afforded a brief rest before they were back in action on Monday evening. And it was not only the eventual result, but the manner of the performance that had the Bray boss purring.

"We controlled the game, some of our play was excellent but we basically them back into it. Two soft goals for us (to concede), I'll look at it defensively from our point of view – a set piece and we weren't marking. The first goal gave them a bit of impetus and they had a go for a few minutes but I think we should've finished the game off. We had some wonderful chances from good play. To score five away from home is great against anybody."

Wanderers had Shane Byrne and Jake Kelly to thank for their five goals. The former landed a brace while the latter notched a hat-trick and they got the seal of approval from their manager.

"He scored two good goals. He could've had a hat-trick as well just after half time. He'd a couple of good opportunities in the first half, all from good play which is the positive thing. If you're making chances (it's okay), if you're not making chances you're in trouble. We made a lot of good chances there tonight. We scored five of them and on another night we might well have been a couple of goals ahead before Shels got back into the game. Give them credit for getting back into the game and plugging away, they made it difficult for us but overall, I think we deserved the win and it's satisfying to get into the next round and to score five goals.

"(Jake's a) good player and he gives us plenty of pace and strength and momentum in the last third. He linked up well with Izzy and Dave Cassidy for his goals. A good penalty and a good free kick and he's a livewire. He hit the ball too strong (for his second) but it was a definite goal, there's no two ways about it. He's a good player, Jake. We were happy to have the players that we have in areas that we want to exploit teams and play on the front foot. Players like himself and Izzy who has come back into the fold, he hasn't had a great pre-season because he wasn't in with the group so we're still working and there's still a lot of work to do but it's nice to see players getting goals because it gives them confidence."

Bray Wanderers will have to remember their shooting boots if they plan on extending their unbeaten run against FAI Cup champions Sligo Rovers but Mathews, who was present at the Showgrounds as Sligo came from behind against Athlone Town to win 2-1, can see no reason why his side cannot.

"I went up to watch Sligo the other night and they were like the Sligo you'd expect; they moved the ball quickly, there's a strong spine to the side, they passed and moved the ball with great precision and method, and it's going to be a difficult game. Athlone stuck at it but eventually Sligo's pace and persistence wore them down and we need to just ensure we're at it. It's a tough game for us tonight going to extra time but that's part and parcel of it. We'll get ourselves ready for the match on Friday.

"I've confidence in our players. When we put our players in to play against anybody, on our day we can be a match for anybody. There's not an awful lot between an awful lot of the sides. It didn't surprise me that Athlone were as competitive and made it as difficult as they did for Sligo."

Shane O'Connor and David Cassidy will both sit out Friday's match due to suspension. Danny O'Connor will remain sidelined, while Jamie McGlynn is a doubt having sat out the last two fixtures due to illness.

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