Friday 15 December 2017

A late John Mulroy winner

A late John Mulroy winner ensured that Bray Wanderers' stint at the foot of the Premier Division table would be a brief one.

Having sunk to the bottom following defeat to Dundalk on Friday, the Seagulls wriggled free of its clutches at Tolka Park on Monday courtesy of a 1-2 victory over Shelbourne.

Kieran 'Marty' Waters' first strike of the season had put Bray on course for victory but Mark Leech put the brakes on that when his header found the net on 54 minutes.

A second victory of the season and second victory over Shels was secured though when Mulroy latched onto a pass from Ismahil Akinade and found the bottom corner of the net.

That was Mulroy's third strike of the season but the big news prior to kick-off was that of a first; a first appearance of the season for Shane O'Connor who had finally recovered from an ankle injury. The Ashford man replaced Patsy Malone in the only change from the defeat to Dundalk, but Kieran 'Marty' Waters did also find himself playing off Jason Byrne, with Mulroy deployed on the wing.

The inclusion of Wanderers' former young player of the year O'Connor should have shored up the defence but the home side spurned a gilt-edged opportunity in the second minute. A chipped pass released Leech and he only had Quigley to beat. The Bray custodian stayed on his line and he had his legs to thank for stopping Leech's fierce drive from 12 yards.

Bray's talisman Jason Byrne then passed up an opportunity. After being put through by Waters, the legendary hitman beat Ger Hanley with his low drive but unfortunately for Wanderers he also beat the far post.

Gary Dempsey then became the architect for the opener. His through-ball found Waters and despite extremely heavy pressure from Brian Shortall, Waters composed himself and stabbed home past Hanley to get his name on the scoresheet for the first time this term.

Waters then almost set up a chance for Mulroy. Eoin Hyland's raking pass found Waters and his first-time cross found Mulroy. The attacker attempted to take the ball around Ian Ryan but crashed to the deck as he did so. Referee Rob Rogers declined to award a penalty or to book Mulroy for simulation.

Shels' lardy but lethal striker Philly Hughes had been introduced as a 33rd minute replacement for the injured Sean Brennan and he almost notched five minutes into the second period. Jack Memery sent in a cross from the left and Hughes took it down before twisting and smacking a low effort that was just the wrong side of Quigley's post.

Pat Devlin had also sprung a striker from the bench though and that man - Ismahil Akinade - would go on to claim the man of the match award. On 52 minutes he skipped in off the right and fired towards the top corner, forcing Hanley into a fine one-handed save.

But within two minutes it was level pegging. Hughes attempted to take a ball down in the area and Shane O'Connor stepped in to toe it up in the air away from Hughes. O'Connor hadn't bargained on Leech marching onto the ball and looping a header over Quigley from 14 yards though.

Akinade tested Hanley again when he benefitted from a Byrne chest-down but Hanley again foiled the Nigerian-born man.

Akiande then turned provider as he fed Mulroy on the right with a lovely pass. Mulroy shimmied inside but he pulled his left-footed effort wide.

Two minutes later, Akinade dinked another ball out to Mulroy on the right. Again, Mulroy dipped inside and teased his man but on this occasion, he managed to wrap his foot around the ball and find the near corner of Hanley's goal.

Having already had one lead snatched away already, the Seasiders were in no mood for déjà vu and O'Connor and David Webster teamed up to repel Shelbourne's attacks.

But then in the 94th minute the ball fell to Leech, he twisted his body and get a bicycle kick away but Quigley managed to leap and turn the ball over the crossbar and in doing so, secure three points for his side.

Top Form: Ismahil Akinade (Bray Wanderers): Is Izzy beginning to repay the faith shown in him?

Wicklow People

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