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Wednesday 22 May 2019

Bray limp to defeat

Soccer, SSE Airtricity League First Division: Longford Town 2 Bray Wanderers 0

Bray Wanderers, who lost out 2-0 to Longford Town at City Calling Stadium
Bray Wanderers, who lost out 2-0 to Longford Town at City Calling Stadium

Daniel Gorman at City Calling Stadium

The blip continued for Bray Wanderers on Saturday evening as Longford Town cruised to victory without having to break a sweat against the Seagulls.

First-half goals from Mick McDonnell and Peter Hopkins put the hosts firmly in control and they comfortably swatted away Bray's challenge to reclaim top spot from Cabinteely.

With Joe Doyle injured and Jake Ellis unavailable due to his international duties the night before, Gary Cronin saw his hand forced and he had to ask Dean O'Halloran to take up the slack in the striker's department.

A victory for the Co. Wicklow club at the City Calling Stadium would have seen them leap from sixth to joint second but instead they remain in the bottom half of the table following their fourth league defeat in their last five outings.

After such a vibrant start to the season, the current run is demoralizing but there are 19 fixtures remaining and Bray are just five points off top spot so some perspective is important.

Bray boss Cronin and star man Dylan McGlade were on familiar territory in the Midlands; Cronin was a member of the coaching staff with De Town for eight years and McGlade lit up the CCS many times in 2018 before switching allegiances to Wanderers in the off-season.

In Conor Kenna, Dean Zambra and Lee Steacy; Longford sported a couple of former Bray men too and it was a very casual evening's work for Steacy as Bray's dismal form in front of goal continued; the Seagulls have only netted one goal in their last 450+ minutes of league action.

Longford were hungry to return to top spot having seen it swiped by Cabinteely 24 hours earlier and Neale Fenn's men didn't hang about; taking the lead after just eight minutes.

Hugh Douglas had done well to deal with an earlier corner but he - nor and of his team-mates - could do anything when Anto Breslin's flag kick found Michael McDonnell and his reward for his powerful leap was the opening goal.

A corner almost proved the source of Bray's leveller when McGlade's corner was met by Sean Heaney but his effort cleared Steacy's crossbar.

Longford, on more than one occasion throughout the match, made hay through the middle and on the half hour mark it required a smart save from Sava to deny Adam Evans.

Evans then turned provider for Verdon and it looked like the attacker was in the clear but a poor touch saw the threat fizzle out.

Sava was beaten four minutes later when Aodh Dervin collected a pass from Steacy and showed why he's so highly-thought of in those parts as he drove forward before slipping in Hopkins who kept his balance and his composure to slalom past Sava and slot home.

There was an opportunity to halve the deficit which fell to Killian Cantwell but the ex-Limerick man fired wide of Steacy's goal.

With Town already two goals to the good, they took their foot off the accelerator in the second period and allowed the visitors more possession but Cronin's men never looked like doing much with it and Luke Nolan's booking for dissent - possibly borne out of sheer frustration - perhaps summed up the travelling support's feelings.

Longford almost added a third in the final 15 minutes when Sam Verdon got a shot away after being found by Sean Brennan but Sava was equal to it on that occasion. Verdon had another shot at goal two minutes later but this time his radar was slightly off as he curled wide.

Cronin introduced Luka Lovic and Brandon McCann as he hoped to spark his side into life but his efforts were fruitless as they fell to defeat yet again.

Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Shane Elworthy, Conor Kenna, Mick McDonnell, Anto Breslin; Dean Zambra; Peter Hopkins, Sean Brennan, Aodh Dervin, Adam Evans; Sam Verdon. SUBS: Dean Byrne for Evans (81); Paul O'Conor for Brennan (87); Karl Chambers for Hopkins (89). Not used: Jack Menton, Kevin Knight, Joseph Manley, Jamie Doyle.

Bray Wanderers: 1. Gabriel Sava; 22. Luke Nolan, 5. Sean Heaney, 2. Hugh Douglas, 3. Dylan Barnett; 24. Richie Purdy, 5. Killian Cantwell, 6. Paul Keegan, 11. Derek Daly; 10. Dylan McGlade; 7. Dean O'Halloran. SUBS: Luka Lovic for Heaney (72); Brandon McCann for R. Purdy (83). Not used: Adam Hayden, Andrew McGovern, Darragh Gibbons, Anthony Purdy, Conor Purdy.

Referee: Jason Mannix.

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