Seagulls sink City
Soccer: SSE Airtricity League Premier Division - Bray Wanderers 2 Derry City 1
Bray Wanderers scooped their second victory of the season and ended Derry City's nine-match unbeaten run courtesy of a Ronan Coughlan brace.
Coughlan has now single-handedly earned the Seagulls six of their seven points as it was his goal that earned Bray a 1-0 success over Shamrock Rovers too. The Limerick native netted either side of a Nicky Low effort to earn his side a deserved three points.
It was no more than the Seagulls deserved on a night when they - and not Derry - looked like a side hunting Europe and possibly even a title challenge.
Following on from the disappointing defeat at the hands of relegation rivals Sligo Rovers,
Graham Kelly made two changes. Paul O'Conor had recovered sufficiently from his head injury and replaced Dan McKenna while Coughlan was recalled at the expense of Dylan Hayes having been benched for the visit to the Showgrounds.
Victories at the Carlisle Grounds this season are almost unheard of with just the one prior to Friday and another lesser spotted occurrence is sunshine and we were treated to both as the Candystripes make the long journey south to the seaside town.
Despite enduring the injury woes of Aaron Dillon, Jake Kelly, Aaron Greene, John Sullivan and Darragh Noone; Wanderers started the tie in ferocious fashion and bullied their visitors in every department.
Gerard Doherty had to be alert to prevent embarrassment after three minutes when Cory Galvin's over-hit cross threatened to ghost in.
Wanderers should have taken the advantage after nine minutes. Sean Heaney peeled off his man at the back post and Kevin Lynch's right-wing corner found him. The ball begged for a decisive volley but instead the centre-half sliced it towards the half-way line.
That was just one of four corners that Bray earned in the opening 10 minutes as they pounced and pinned Derry into their own half.
Gary McCabe took the initiative minutes later when he picked possession up on the right flank. His eyes lit up as he spotted space in front of him and he charged into it before sending a shot swooshing across the face of Doherty's goal.
Ex-Sheriff YC man, Kelly, couldn't stay out of the action and he was adamant that he deserved a penalty after being nudged in the back when trying to latch onto a cross but John McLoughlin waved away his protests.
Bray's pressure finally told though as their seventh corner bore fruition on the hour mark. McCabe whipped in from the left and Coughlan beat his man to the ball to nod home from six yards.
The lead lasted just three minutes as Nicky Low spanked home into the bottom corner from 20 yards with deadly precision but Coughlan wouldn't be quietened.
Gary McCabe's mazy run left a handful of Derry men in his wake before it was moved onto Dan McKenna. The substitute chipped a sublime pass into Coughlan's path and he absorbed the ball with his first touch before tucking it past Doherty.
City almost spoiled Bray's evening when John Cofie's touch to Low's corner took it past Moran but Rhys Gorman was on hand to clear it off the line.
Deep into stoppage time, Sean Heaney conceded a foul on the edge of the Bray area. Aaron McEneff, who had been anonymous throughout, eyed a chance for late heroics but his low drive was beaten away by Evan Moran.
Bray now sit six points adrift of Limerick who ran Cork worryingly close on Saturday. The Seagulls know faced a home double-header with Bohemians and Waterford visiting the Carlisle Grounds on Friday and Monday respectively.
That means, in theory, by Monday night, Wanderers could be tied for ninth. It's ambitious. It's not very plausible. But it's possible.
Bray WANDERERS: 29. Evan Moran; 2. Hugh Douglas, 4. Conor Kenna, 5. Sean Heaney, 3. Kevin Lynch; 14. Rhys Gorman, 6. Paul O'Conor; 17. Daniel Kelly, 21. Gary McCabe, 7. Cory Galvin; 19. Ronan Coughlan. SUBS: Dan McKenna for Galvin (69); Andrew McGovern for D. Kelly (77); Ger Pender for Coughlan (90). Not used: Adam Dempsey, Calvin Rogers, Dylan Hayes, Shane Flynn.
Derry CITY: 1. Gerard Doherty; 2. Conor McDermott, 14. Gavin Peers, 20. Darren Cole, 36. Jack Doyle; 8. Rory Hale; 7. Jamie McDonagh, 4. Aaron McEneff, 67. Nicky Low, 25. Ronan Hale; 11. Rory Patterson. SUBS: Ronan Curtis for Ronan Hale (65); Ben Doherty for McDonagh (65); John Cofie for Patterson (77). Not used: Eric Grimes, Eoin Toal, Niall Logue, Nathan Boyle.
Referee: John McLoughlin.