Seagulls barely lay a glove on opponents
Waterford FC 1
Bray Wanderers 0
Waterford strolled to a third triumph of the season over Bray Wanderers as the limp Seagulls were cut further adrift in their hunt for the play-off.
Bray barely laid a glove on Waterford as Louis Britton’s 53rd minute strike decided the contest that the Munster men without breaking sweat.
Brian Murphy enjoyed one of the easier nights of his career as Pat Devlin’s troops again failed to muster any meaningful attacks on a night where play-off rivals Treaty United picked up a point and Wexford FC picked up three.
Devlin made six changes from the side that were trashed 1-5 by Galway United. Having conceded five goals against the Tribesmen, Michael Kelly found himself back on bench duties with Kilpedder native Stephen McGuinness given the nod between the sticks. Callum Thompson, Darragh Levingston, Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters and Jack Hudson – who has been a mainstay at the heart of the defence – also failed to make the cut.
It meant a shift to centre-half for Dan Blackbyrne and Paul Fox was pushed on to left wing with Conor McManus also making his return.
There was almost a stroke of good fortune for Bray in the early stages when Eoin Massey pumped a free kick up the field and Rob Manley’s touch almost caught out Brian Murphy, but the experienced shot-stopper recovered well.
Phoenix Patterson was almost through on goal after a neat pass from Britton but alert goalkeeping from Stephen McGuinness snuffed that one out. Moments later, Patterson collected a lay-off and his pirouette bought him the space to shoot. His fierce effort flew high over the crossbar.
A corner kick from the right was delivered by Junior Quitirna and it so nearly produced the opener as left-back Richard Taylor applied the faintest of glances, but it needed a firmer touch as it flew by the far post.
Patterson continued to be a thorn in Bray’s side on the half hour mark. His cross saw two Waterford attackers fluff their lines with the second of those – Louis Britton – seeing his meek shot put behind.
Waterford mixed things up from the resulting corner. With the six-yard box packed, Patterson fizzed in a pass to the penalty spot and Quitirna met it, but his effort sailed over.
The RSC would be blessed with biblical rain and thunder in the latter stages of the first half, but it didn’t halt Quitirna from receiving the ball into feet and turning very sharply but McGuinness held the strike very well in the conditions.
Issues with the floodlights at the interval posed the threat of a possible match abandonment but thankfully the matter was resolved, and the second half could commence; albeit later than originally planned.
The monsoon like conditions took their toll on the playing surface and the ball could be soon holding up on occasions which suited neither side.
Conor Clifford came close to breaking the deadlock from a free kick on 51 minutes. After Rob Manley had been fouled, the ex-Chelsea youth star saw his strike take a slight nick off the wall and fly narrowly wide.
But it was Waterford that drew first blood. Roland Idowa was set free down the right flank and his low delivery saw Britton apply a deft touch to guide it into the far corner.
Waterford tried to strike while the iron was hot and just two minutes later Quitirna saw his 18-yard effort trickled agonisingly wide and then Patterson darted in off his native left flank and weaved into the box, but McGuinness managed to turn it behind.
Bray never looked like finding a leveller as time wore. Callum Thomson entered the fray on 69 minutes but fan favourite Darragh Lynch had to wait until seven minutes from time when he entered the fray alongside Waters and Vilius Labutis.
But they had no bearing on the outcome with Waterford instead the ones with the late goal threat but none of Yassine En-Neyah, Patterson nor Britton could convert late chances.
Friday’s loss means that Bray have recorded just one victory in their last 14 matches; certainly not the form of a side with the potential of winning a play-off.
Waterford FC: Brian Murphy; Tunmise Sobowale, Kilian Cantwell, Eddie Nolan, Richard Taylor; Roland Idowu, Yassine En-Neyah, Shane Griffin, Phoenix Patterson; Junior Quitirna, Louis Britton. Subs: Callum Stringer for Idowu (82); Darragh Power for Taylor (90). Not used: Paul Martin, George Forrest, Kevin Joshua, Jeremie Milambo, Nigel Aris, Owen Oseni, Romeo Akachukwu.
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness; Eoin Massey, Dan Blackbyrne, Kevin Knight, Conor McManus; Zak O’Neill, Conor Clifford, Karl Manahan, Paul Fox; Ben Feeney; Rob Manley. Subs: Callum Thompson for O’Neill (69); Darragh Lynch for Manley (83); Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters for Feeney (83); Vilius Labutis for Clifford (83). Not used: Michael Kelly, Jack Hudson, Eoin McPhillips, Conor Knight, Darragh Levingston.
Referee: Alan Patchell.
Venue: RSC, Waterford.