Wednesday 25 April 2018

High-flying Seagulls clip 10-man United's wings

Soccer: SSE Airtricity League Premier Division

Daniel Gorman at the Carlisle Grounds

Poor discipline proved costly for the second time in 72 hours as Drogheda United tasted defeat at the Carlisle Grounds on Monday night in front of watching Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill.

Bray Wanderers 2 Drogheda Utd 1

Wingers Aaron Greene and Dylan Connolly both displayed their danger to craft a 2-0 lead for the Seagulls by the 21st minute and Harry Kenny's side never really looked in danger of relinquishing it - especially when Luke Gallagher got his marching orders for a second yellow card with almost half an hour still remaining.

Ciaran McGuigan did pull a goal back within two minutes of Drogheda conceding the second goal, but ultimately it was in vain as a disappointing Drogheda side dropped into mid-table.

Pete Mahon had told his players even in advance of Friday's match against Cork City to expect changes as he rotated his squad during a busy run of games, but even they must have been surprised as more than half of the starting XI was altered.

Conor Kane, Ryan McEvoy, Sean Brennan, Gareth McCaffrey, Adam Wixted and Marc Griffin all came in for their first starts of the season.

By contrast, there were just two changes to the Bray side that threw away a 2-0 lead to lose against Bohemians on Friday night as Ryan Robinson debuted at the expense of Hughie Douglas and Tim Clancy dropped to the bench to make room for Derek Foran as Kenny looked to plug a few holes in his leaky defence.

It was almost the perfect start for the away side. McCaffrey's free kick was parried by Peter Cherrie and Jake Hyland looked to have swept home the rebound, but former Drog Conor Kenna hooked it off the line at the very last moment.

Greene struck his second goal in Bray colours a minute later. He picked up possession on the right flank, cut inside, headed for goal and drilled in a powerful shot past Stephen McGuinness.

Drogheda were almost 2-0 down inside the opening 10 minutes. A Kevin Lynch corner funnelled all the way through the back post where another former United Park favourite, John Sullivan, was a fraction away from tapping home.

Greene would turn provider for Wanderers' second goal in the 21st minute. From inside his own half, he tossed a ball in behind the United defence for Connolly. He and Colm Deasy were both competing for the ball and Deasy got a touch, but it wasn't enough to perturb Connolly who lobbed the advancing McGuinness from 22 yards.

A lifeline was snatched by Drogheda within two minutes, however. Griffin whipped in a corner from the left and, having left Flood on the ground, centre-half Ciaran McGuigan showed a striker's finish as his volley rocketed into the top corner of the Bray net.

Connolly is meant to be the speed demon at Bray, but Greene proved he was no slouch on 50 minutes as he collected a clearance from his own defence, charged all the way up to the Drogheda penalty area and delivered a cross that Flood was a whisker away from converting.

With both of Bray's centre-halves booked by the hour mark, they were understandably hesitant as McCaffrey ran at them in full flight, but he was to be eventually denied by Cherrie as the Scot blocked his near-post effort behind for a corner.

Drogheda's uphill battle became considerably steeper in the 64th minute when Gallagher collected a second yellow card for a foul on Connolly.

Greene thought he was about to grab his second goal of the tie on 69 minutes when the ball fell to him 10 yards out, but a despairing block repelled his strike.

Connolly was also hungry for more and in the 90th minute he did manage to tiptoe his way around Wicklow native McGuinness, but the narrow angle got the better of him.

United failed to ask questions in the latter stages of a defence that had conceded six in their previous two fixtures, but having played for 70 minutes with 10 men on Friday night, perhaps they just didn't have the legs as they huffed and puffed with a numerical disadvantage for the second time in three days.

Drogheda Independent