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Wednesday 21 November 2018

Seagulls slipping

Bray Wanderers 0 Shamrock Rovers 3

Joel Coustrain of Shamrock Rovers in action against Darragh Noone of Bray Wanderers
Joel Coustrain of Shamrock Rovers in action against Darragh Noone of Bray Wanderers

Daniel Gorman

Following on from a two-week break for his side, Gary Cronin made three alterations to his side for this important clash at the Carlisle Grounds last weekend.

Evan Moran returned from injury to replace 16-year-old Enda Minogue who, ironically, was ruled out through injury. Dragos Mamaliga and Byron O'Gorman - two more teenagers - also made way for Darragh Gibbons and Darragh Noone.

The match was expected to be much like the Quinsboro Road - one-way traffic - but the hosts should have struck the first blow after five minutes.

Kevin Lynch picked the pocket of Joel Coustrain before surging into the Rovers half like a man on a mission.

He slipped in the unmarked Jake Kelly and although the angle wasn't ideal for a left-footer, he should have done a lot better than fluffing a shot that was an easy pick-up for Alan Mannus.

Rovers' first strike arrived on 11 minutes. Sean Kavanagh's cross from the left wasn't properly marked and it fell to Carr but his rash swipe at the ball saw it tail harmlessly away to the right much to Bray's relief.

It was the hosts forcing the issue again on 26 minutes when Sean Harding was found inside the area after good build-up play but his powerful strike roared over the crossbar.

Joel Coustrain fired back for the Hoops as he veered in off the right flank and skipped past two more challenges but his finish was straight into the gloves of Evan Moran.

Gary Cronin might have had some stern words for Darragh Noone after the 21-year-old's sloppiness on the ball saw Carr nudge him off the ball but Moran was equal to the striker's low effort.

The visiting fans had something to cheer as Dan Carr brilliantly laid on the opener. Joel Coustrain's raking ball forward was brilliantly chased down and won by Carr who then had the skill to evade Sean Heaney as he danced down the byline. He sent in a low cross which Finn appeared to nudge over the goal-line.

Rovers had the chance to possibly wrap things up right on the stroke of half-time when Miele's corner found the head of Ethan Boyle but a goal-line clearance denied the Hoops right-back.

Stephen Bradley's side seemed intent on grabbing an assuring second on Coustrain almost landed it four minutes into the second period as his left-foot curler drew a chorus of 'oooohs' as it dropped narrowly wide.

Roberto Lopes spurned a fantastic opportunity to make it 0-2 as he powered onto an out-swinging Miele corner but his header flew wide of the target.

Sean Kavanagh would see a wicked free kick pushed behind by Moran but moments later the left-back burst into the box and was clipped by Darragh Gibbons to earn his side a penalty. Dylan Watts kept his cool from 12 yards.

Kavanagh tried again to get his name on the scoresheet with an even better free kick this time but Moran produced an even better save to deflect it behind.

Moran would be beaten for a third time when Watts found Miele and he neatly turned inside the box before squeezing his low, left-footed shot beyond the despairing dive of Moran.

Rovers threatened to further widen the gap - undeservedly as it would have been - but Brandon Kavanagh was just off target when he cut in off the right and opened up his body to curl just wide with his left peg.

The Seagulls now face another two weeks in purgatory before their next outing - a visit to the RSC to take on Waterford. After Waterford, there will be just five more league fixtures to fulfil until Bray Wanderers bid farewell to the Premier Division and prepare for life in the First Division for the first time since 2003.

Bray Wanderers: 29. Evan Moran; 15. Darragh Gibbons, 4. Conor Kenna, 5. Sean Heaney, 3. Kevin Lynch; 31. Sean Harding, 14. Rhys Gorman, 6. Paul O'Conor, 22. Darragh Noone; 11. Jake Kelly; 9. Ger Pender. Subs: Jake Ellis for Pender (74); Glen Hollywood for Jake Kelly (87). Not used: Cian Walsh, Alex Rafferty, Jamie Crilly, Cian Maher, Jack Kelly.

Shamrock Rovers: 1. Alan Mannus; 2. Ethan Boyle, 4. Roberto Lopes, 5. Lee Grace, 11. Sean Kavanagh; 6. Greg Bolger; 17 Joel Coustrain, 8. Ronan Finn, 7. Dylan Watts, 10. Brandon Miele; 9. Dan Carr. Subs: Aaron Greene for Carr (57); Brandon Kavanagh for Coustrain (73); Gary Shaw for Finn (79). Not used: Gavin Bazunu, Joey O'Brien, Aaron Bolger, Sam Bone.

Referee: Robert Hennessy.

Venue: Carlisle Grounds, Bray.

Wicklow People

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