independent

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Fitzgerald makes Bray pay penalty

Soccer: Shelbourne 1 Bray Wanderers 0

Daniel Gorman at Tolka Park

A contentious penalty saw Bray Wanderers drop from the top of the First Division to sixth place as they came up short against their anticipated off-season title rivals Shelbourne.

Seagulls skipper Paul Keegan was the guilty party when he came together with James English in the penalty box after 33 minutes and Shels left-back Lorcan Fitzgerald tucked away the all-important spot kick.

And Gary Cronin could feel the impact of that Tolka Park defeat long after he had exited Tolka Park following an injury to Joe Doyle who is now a doubt for the visit to Longford Town.

Five of Shels' starting XI were former employees of the Co. Wicklow club and one such ex-Seagull - Ryan Brennan - almost landed the opening punch.

Fitzgerald's corner wasn't cleared decisively and Brennan was sniffing around goal but fortunately it was a let-off for the visitors as he shanked his effort wide from close-range.

Karl Moore - another fan favourite in his time at the Carlisle Grounds - danced his way down the flank and toyed with his man before aiming a cross in the direction of Ciaran Kilduff.

The well-travelled striker applied a deft touch to the delivery but it was a routine stop for Gabriel Sava.

Cronin's men were huffing and puffing but causing very little stress to Ian Morris' defence and it was the hosts that looked most capable of breaking the deadlock.

A speculative James English effort from outside the area sailed harmlessly wide but it was further proof of Shels turning the heat up on their fellow title challengers.

English enjoyed a much tastier opportunity minutes later when sent clean through on goal by a superb Ryan Brennan pass but he was denied by the feet of Sava and Kilduff was unable to force the rebound home.

That scare for Bray occurred on 31 minutes and by the 33rd minute, they had bid farewell to their clean sheet.

Referee Marc Lynch adjudged Keegan's challenge on English to have been too robust and Fitzgerald made no mistake from 12 yards as he sent Sava the wrong way.

Colin McCabe in the Shels goal had a relatively quiet evening and especially in the first half when a late Derek Daly strike from the edge of the box - which didn't trouble him - was the sum total of their efforts.

There were 10 minutes on the clock in the second half when Wanderers' hopes were dealt a seismic blow with Joe Doyle limping off.

Cronin could now place all his trust in Jake Ellis - a man who only turned 18 in March - or he could reshuffle his pack.

He opted for the latter as he introduced Hugh Douglas. This saw Douglas go in at centre-half, pushing Killian Cantwell into midfield which freed Dean O'Halloran to take up the striking role.

With their main attacking presence now licking his wound in the dugout, Wanderers needed someone to step up to the plate and Dylan McGlade attempted to do just that.

He gave Shels their first warning on the hour mark as he glided past three players but before he could start planning any celebrations, Derek Prendergast expertly snuffed out the threat with some excellent defending.

Philip Gannon was next to try and offer inspiration when he drilled one goalwards from 20 yards but it finished the wrong side of the crossbar for his liking.

Oscar Brennan - a former star with the Seagulls' U-19 side - almost handed Bray a route back into the match when his foul allowed McGlade to step up and rattle the crossbar from 22 yards and at that stage; with McGlade hamstrung and the crossbar shaking - Cronin must have felt it wasn't going to be his night.

James English and substitute Greg Moorhouse both had half-chances to kill off the tie but the former shot straight at Sava and the latter was off target.

With Bray chasing the game late on, Cronin decided against throwing Ellis into the fray and the Shels defence stood firm to land three crucial points at the Seagulls' expense.

Shelbourne: 25. Colin McCabe; 2. John Ross Wilson, 23. Luke Byrne, 20, Derek Prendergast, 3. Lorcan Fitzgerald; 4. Oscar Brennan, 16. Dan McKenna; 15. Karl Moore, 7. Ryan Brennan, 9. James English; 8. Ciaran Kilduff.SUBS: Sean Quinn for McKenna (76); Greg Moorhouse for Kilduff (82). Not used: Dean Delany, Alex O'Hanlon, Daniel Byrne, Darragh Noone, Dayle Rooney.

Bray Wanderers: 1. Gabriel Sava; 22. Luke Nolan, 4. Killan Cantwell, 5. Sean Heaney, 3. Dylan Barnett; 7. Dean O'Halloran, 6. Paul Keegan, 8. Philip Gannon, 11. Derek Daly; 10. Dylan McGlade; 9. Joe Doyle. SUBS: Hugh Douglas for Doyle (55); Richie Purdy for Gannon (78). Not used: Adam Hayden, Darragh Gibbons, Luka Lovic, Brandon McCann, Jake Ellis.

Referee: Marc Lynch.

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