BRAY WANDERERS failed to give their fans one last hurrah as they succumbed to an unflattering 1-4 defeat at the hands of Bohemians.
BRAY WANDERERS 1 Byrne pen 60 BOHEMIANS 4
Mulcahy 50; Buckley 52; Mulligan 68, McEvoy 90+2
Dave Webster saw his season end on a sour note as he was sent off in the 32nd minutes and it was all downhill from there for the Seagulls as Bohs ran in four second half goals, despite a Jason Byrne penalty wedged in between.
Thanks to Dundalk's failings the previous week, the Seagulls knew going into Friday's clash that they would be plying their trade in the Premier Division next term for a record tenth consecutive season. With that in mind, usual benchwarmer Brian Kane was promoted to the starting XI, with Darren Quigley given a rest.
And Kane was the first of the goalkeepers to be called into action when he had to dive to his right to turn man of the match Andy Mulligan's low drive around his post.
Dinny Corcoran was then illegally halted by Dave Webster 30 yards from goal. The resultant free kick from Ryan McEvoy was a simple catch for Kane but the booking picked up by Webster for the foul would prove costly just a couple of minutes later. The defender's poor touch allowed Keith Buckley to intercept and like a flash, Buckley had touched the ball past Webster and was about to begin haring down on goal until Webster stuck out an arm to obstruct him. The defender immediately put his hands to his head and began walking towards the changing rooms, not even waiting for confirmation of his punishment from Neil Doyle.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Wanderers didn't shy from their attacking obligations and when Kevin Knight slipped Dean Marshall through in the 39th minute he
BRAY WANDERERS (4-5-1)
25. Brian Kane; 8. Daire Doyle, 6. Danny O'Connor, 2. Dave Webster (Booked, Sent Off), 12. Kevin Knight; 17. Dean Marshall, 18. John Mulroy, 7. Kevin O'Connor, 20. Sean Houston, 11. Kieran 'Marty' Waters; 10. Jason Byrne. SUBS: Lee Dixon for Marshall (66); Paul Moffatt for Mulroy (72); Yani Georgiev for Byrne (88). Not used: Darren Quigley, Colm Tresson, Conor Butler, Pat Seery.
30. Greg Murray; 33. Michael Barker, 5. Evan McMillan, 6. Kevin Feely, 19. Luke Byrne; 7. Keith Buckley, 15. Dave Mulcahy, 11. Stephen Traynor, 9. Ryan McEvoy, 18. Andy Mulligan; 24. Dinny Corcoran. SUBS: Keith Ward for Traynor (63); Kevin Deveney for Byrne (75); Dylan Connolly for Mulligan (76). Not used: Andy McNulty, Roberto Lopez, Dave Scully, Peter McMahon. VENUE: Carlisle Grounds
REFEREE: Neil Doyle (Dublin) should have broken the deadlock, but instead his horrendous touch prevented him from bagging his second goal for the club.
That chance came as a result of a Knight interception and Kevin O'Connor returned the favour a couple of minutes later but Mulligan's toe-poke failed to find the net and he was clattered by Kane for his troubles.
A patched-up backline, which saw the ever versatile Sean Houston take up the centre back reins, were able to work the ball brilliantly out of defence to create an opening for Jason Byrne on 47 minutes. Daire Doyle, Dean Marshall, John Mulroy and then Kieran 'Marty' Waters were all involved before Waters split the Bohs defence with a pass for Byrne. Greg Murray had sensed the danger and dashed from his goal and this allowed him to make the block as Byrne tried to knock it past him.
Two minutes later Bohemians right-back Michael Barker had his clearance blocked down by Waters and suddenly the winger had the goal in his sights. Murray again attempted to cut out the danger but Waters was coy and lobbed the shot-stopper, only to see his effort strike the underside of the crossbar and dance menacingly on the goalline before being cleared away. Wherefore art thou, lady luck?
It was less than 60 seconds later that the Seagulls found themselves trailing. Ex-Bray man Dave Mulcahy latched onto a through ball and he had the wherewithal to chip over the advancing Kane for a rather cheeky finish.
It was 0-2 within two minutes. McEvoy sprayed a pass out to Mulligan on the left of the penalty area and he lofted a cross over Kane, where Buckley stole in past a hesitant Houston to prod home.
A Michael Barker shove on Waters offered the hosts a route back into the match and Byrne's 13th league strike reduced the arrears, but it was only temporary.
Bohs substitute Keith Ward linked up with Corcoran and he fed Mulligan who smashed past Kane to make it 1-3.
Ex-Gypsy Lee Dixon almost managed to pull a goal back against his former club with 11 minutes to go but his low drive could only find the foot of the post and then with two minutes of injury time Wanderers shipped an unfair fourth as McEvoy fired home a rocket from the edge of the box.
Top Form: Andy Mulligan (Bohemians).
Brian Kane: 5/10. A rare start for the youngster but one that he would probably rather forget.
Daire Doyle: 6/10. Can never question his commitment. Made several last-ditch interventions.
Danny O'Connor: 5/10. His night was summed up in the dying moments when he slipped and landed flat on his back.
Dave Webster: 4/10. Cost his side the match effectively. Very stupid dismissal.
Kevin Knight: 6/10. Showed no fears on his first match back since suffering a broken jaw.
Dean Marshall: 5/10. Had little say on proceedings.
John Mulroy: 6/10. Irked by a few of Neil Doyle's decisions but decent performance.
Kevin O'Connor: 5/10. Looked a bit tired as Bray chased the game.
Sean Houston: 5/10. Can now add centre half to his CV. Should have prevented the second goal.
Kieran 'Marty' Waters: 8/10. Desperately unlucky not to score that sensational lob. Won the penalty.
Jason Byrne: 7/10. A lone striker in a ten-man team is always going to struggle. Took the penalty well.