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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Douglas heads late leveller

Soccer, SSE Airtricity League First Division: Bray Wanderers 3 Cobh Ramblers 3

Joe Doyle of Bray Wanderers tries to get past Kevin Taylor of Cobh Ramblers
Joe Doyle of Bray Wanderers tries to get past Kevin Taylor of Cobh Ramblers

Daniel Gorman at Carlisle Grounds

The funfair may no longer be present on Bray beach but there was a rollercoaster on display in the Carlisle Grounds on Friday evening as Bray Wanderers came from behind thrice to salvage a point against Cobh Ramblers.

With Cabo suffering a shock defeat to Galway, it means Bray have closed the gap to four points but they may live to rue not picking away Ramblers on Friday.

Cobh lead at half-time thanks to Cian Leonard's penalty but Joe Doyle replied on 46 minutes.

A Stephen O'Leary header restored Cobh's lead only for Dean Williams to again find an equaliser for Bray.

Within 30 seconds though, Cobh hit the front courtesy of a stunning O'Leary strike but a Hugh Douglas header in stoppage time proved to be the final act in this drama.

As was probably to expected, it had all the hallmarks of a nothing-to-play for end of season canter in the early stages.

Galway taking an early lead in Stradbrook raised eyebrows more so than expectations; especially when Cobh hit the front after 32 minutes when Hugh Douglas failed to heed the referee's warning. As the Cobh corner taker awaited his chance to deliver, referee Alan Carey halted play to warn Douglas and his marker to cut out the grappling. The corner was delivered moments later and - with Douglas returning for round two - Carey awarded a spot-kick and booked the Bray native to boot.

Cian Leonard sent Sava the wrong way from the spot.

There had been very, very little entertainment prior to the opener. Douglas had hung in the air for a millennium to meet a Paul Keegan free but his header looped over.

Dean Williams opted to hurdle an outstretched leg in the penalty area and the move petered out; had he gone to ground Carey would have had a difficult decision to make as they was definitely contact.

On 18 minutes, McGlade injected a bit of life into the tie with a clever pass to release John Martin. He charged forward and had - of all people - Hugh Douglas ploughing through the middle alongside him. Martin opted to slide it to Williams instead and the attacker struck the ground as he shot and Hunt was able to turn it behind.

Brandon McCann nearly grabbed his second goal as a Seagull as he superbly met Joe Doyle's cross from the right.

He had Hunt beaten all ends up but it flew past the shot-stopper's near post.

McGlade was then released down the left channel and Hunt - with a defender in tow - raced out to narrow the angles.

McGlade managed to jink past them but took the ball too wide in the process and his eventual cross found Williams but his shot was blocked behind.

Leonard's spot-kick nudged Cobh ahead on 32 and by the 38th minute, Cobh had a glorious chance to double their advantage.

Stephen O'Leary did brilliantly to worm his way into the box and shield the ball from his marker before striking at goal. Sava parried the ball directly out in front of himself and it fell for Leonard who looked destined to score but Sean Heaney; somehow - answers on a postcard please - leapt into the night sky and bicycle kicked it away from under the crossbar.

Bray almost got a very large rub of the green when Joe Doyle harmlessly floated a cross into the area. It looked like bread-and-butter stuff for Hunt but it slipped through his fingers and he recovered in the nick of time to stop it rolling over the line with Williams also set to pounce.

Perhaps the Bray players were made aware of the Cabinteely-Galway score at the interval because they'd levelled before a minute of the second period had elapsed.

McGlade's heavy touch seemed to end the attack for Bray but they quickly won it back and McGlade got into the box and squirmed it across to Keegan but he let it run for Doyle who thumped it hard and low past Hunt.

McGlade then twisted and turned his way into the box and delivered a low cross to Williams but the Shamrock Rovers man didn't open up his body and side-footed wide.

Cobh retook the lead shortly before the hour mark when Greg Henry knocked over a cross from the right and wee Stephen O'Leary was left almost completely free to head home.

Williams had a chance to draw Bray level on 74 from a Keegan corner but a combination of Hunt and the post kept it out.

Bray introduced 15-year old Andrew Moran - the club's youngest ever player - and his pass found Derek Daly, whose scuffed shot rolled into the path of Williams who cleverly dinked to the net.

But the celebration music for Williams' goal had yet to fade away when Stephen O'Leary pierced Bray hopes with an outstanding, dipping 25-yard half volley that flew into the top corner.

A crestfallen Bray refused to throw in the towel though and Douglas, now operating as a striker, powered home a header.

Bray Wanderers: 1. Gabriel Sava; 4. Killian Cantwell, 2. Hugh Douglas, 5. Sean Heaney, 11. Derek Daly; 6. Paul Keegan; 9. Joe Doyle, 12. John Martin, 19. Brandon McCann, 10. Dylan McGlade; 18. Dean Williams. SUBS: Jake Ellis for McCann (73); Andrew Moran for Martin (82); Luka Lovic for Doyle (85). Not used: Adam Hayden, Darragh Gibbons, Luke Nolan.

Cobh Ramblers: 1 Paul Hunt; 3. Charlie Fleming, 4. Ben O'Riordan, 15. Charlie Lyons, 2. Kevin Taylor; 7. Ian Turner, 33. Matthew Lamb, 6. David Hurley, 22. Greg Henry 18. Stephen O'Leary; 9. Cian Leonard. SUBS: Cameron Harlson for Lamb (61); Andrew Cronin for Leonard (89). Not used: Mike Foley, Jamie O'Sullivan, Stephen O'Connor, James O'Driscoll, Arthur Nganou.

Referee: Alan Carey.

Venue: Carlisle Grounds, Bray.

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