Second defeat on trot for Seagulls
SSE Airtricity League First Division: Bray Wanderers 0 Shelbourne1
It turned out to be a disappointing occasion for Bray Wanderers for the second week on the trot as the Seagulls came up short against Shelbourne at the Carlisle Grounds on Saturday afternoon.
But while Gary Cronin's charges were desperately unlucky not to grab a share of the spoils, instead of a 1-0 defeat, away to Cobh Ramblers a week earlier, no similar hard luck stories could be trotted out this time around.
Even the most ardent home follower would scarcely claim that the Division One leaders were not full value for their victory, courtesy of a goal from an excellently delivered kick by former Bray player Karl Moore after just 14 minutes.
In front of an attendance of 1,428 patrons, which included Shelbourne legend and ex Republic of Ireland player Jackie Hennessy, the visiting side generally exerted a firm authority on the contest and would not have been flattered if they had enjoyed a more comfortable victory margin at the end of the 90 minutes.
That this factor failed to materialise was largely attributable to two excellent saves by Wanderers goalkeeper Gabriel Sava early in the second half.
On 52 minutes, following a cross from the right wing by Moore, the Romanian native dived smartly to his left to prevent a low header from James English from crossing the line.
And almost immediately Sava was called into action once again, this time expertly deflecting a header from Moore on to the bar and over for a corner following a cross from Gregory Moorhouse.
To the delight of the large contingent of visiting fans, Wanderers never really threatened Shelbourne goalkeeper Colin McCabe, their best chance occurring with time almost up when Philip Gannon headed over the bar from a corner taken by Paul Keegan.
Arguably, Bray's most productive spell occurred late in the first half when they forced three successive corners between the 36th and 38th minute. But to the disappointment of Gary Cronin, the Shelbourne defence coped capably with the threat on each occasion.
Just before the Dublin outfit took the lead, Bray created a scoring chance, but following a cross from the right wing, Derek Daly, who was one of the more prominent players on the home team, drove the ball into the side netting.
Following this let-off, Shelbourne worked the ball down to the other end of the field, and in the wake of some strong pressure they were awarded a free kick when Moorhouse was deemed to have been fouled just outside the penalty area by match referee Eoghan O'Shea.
And Wanderers were made to pay dearly for their transgression when the left-footed Moore beautifully curled the ball over the wall and into the top right hand corner of the net for a truly superb goal.
On 17 minutes, home spirits were raised when the pacey Daly put in a searing run down the left, but no teammate was able to get on the end on his low delivery which flashed threateningly across the Shelbourne goal area.
At the other end, Sava gathered a shot from Moorhouse which lacked significant power on 28 minutes, and then following another cross from Daly, Shelbourne centre half Luke Byrne averted the danger with a headed clearance.
Then it was the visitors' turn to exert some pressure, but after a free kick from team captain Lorcan Fitzgerald, Luke Byrne headed wide of the home goal on 32 minutes.
Subsequently, an element of frustration was observed between two Shelbourne players when Moorhouse complained to Aidan Friel that a pass should have been delivered to his feet rather than on a higher level.
That gripe between the visiting duo was quickly followed by Bray forcing the three consecutive corners, two from the left wing and one from the right wing, but the opposing defence proved the masters in the aerial combat on each occasion.
On 42 minutes, Hugh Douglas distinguished himself for the home side when he got in a very effective block on a goal attempt by Moorhouse.
And just before the half-time whistle, Bray's Joe Doyle failed to profit from a promising cross by Dylan Barnett when he was deemed to have committed a foul against a Shelbourne defender, leaving the visiting side 1-0 up at the break.
On the restart, Gary Cronin swopped Dean O'Halloran, who had started on the right side of midfield, and Daly, who had featured up front.
But it was Shels who charged out of the blocks, and Bray were let off the hook on 47 minutes, when, after Barnett dawdled on the ball and was caught in possession, English drove his shot wide of the right post.
Shortly after this let-off for Wanderers, Shelbourne forced their first corner of the game, and although it came to nothing, they then would have extended their advantage but for the brace of excellent saves by Sava from English and Moore in rapid succession.
Twelve minutes into the second half, following some neat inter-play between Killian Cantwell and Daly, Barnett delivered in a cross-cum-shot which was comfortably saved by Shels' keeper McCabe.
And five minutes later, the visitors had a penalty appeal turned down when referee O'Shea adjudged that Ryan Brennan was tackled legitimately by the opposing defence.
On 63 minutes, Bray forced their first corner of the second half, but once again there was no end product, and then an incisive run by sub Dylan McGlade, who had replaced Doyle a few minutes later, and saw him leave three players in his wake, was eventually halted by the Shels' defence.
With 13 minutes remaining, Wanderers forced another unproductive corner, and then no player was able to get on the end of an excellent cross by Barnett from the left wing.
Action then switched to the other end of the pitch, and it required an outstanding tackle from Sean Heaney to prevent Moorhouse from adding to Shelbourne's lead.
Some optimism was harboured by home fans when it was announced that five minutes of additional time would be played, and with four minutes remaining, Gannon headed over the Shels' bar from a Keegan corner.
With time almost up, Moorhouse robbed Heaney but ended up firing his shot over the Bray bar.
BRAY WANDERERS: 1, Gabriel Sava; 4, Killian Cantwell, 2, Hugh Douglas, 5, Sean Heaney, 3, Dylan Barnett; 7, Dean O'Halloran, 6, Paul Keegan, 24, Richie Purdy, 8, Philip Gannon; 9, Joe Doyle, 11, Derek Daly. Subs: Dylan McGlade for Doyle (60), Jake Ellis for Purdy (69). Not used: Adam Hayden, Darragh Gibbons, Luka Lovic, Brandon McCann, Luke Nolan.
SHELBOURNE; 25, Colin McCabe; 14, Aidan Friel, 20, Derek Prendergast, 23, Luke Byrne, 3, Lorcan Fitzgerald; 9, James English, 17, Shane Farrell, 4, Oscar Brennan, 15, Karl Moore; 11, Gregory Moorhouse, 10, Ryan Brennan. Subs: Conan Byrne for English (70), Daniel McKenna for Farrell (72), Darragh Noone for Brennan (85). Not used: Dean Delaney, Alex O'Hanlon, Dayle Rooney, Flavio Marku.
REFEREE: Eoghan O'Shea.