Sunday 18 February 2018

High-flying Seagulls stun champions Dundalk to continue promising start

Dundalk 1 Bray 3

Dylan Connolly, left, and Mark Salmon of Bray Wanderers celebrate
Dylan Connolly, left, and Mark Salmon of Bray Wanderers celebrate

Referee Jim McKell didn't have a very Good Friday at Oriel Park, leaving the field to a chorus of jeers following Bray Wanderers' controversial 3-1 win over Dundalk.

In a week when Stephen Kenny highlighted Dundalk’s failure to win a penalty in the past 12 months, the Lilywhites boss watched on as the visitors were awarded two highly controversial ones here by the match official.

The rejuvenated Gary McCabe converted both - either side of a Stephen O’Donnell equaliser - before Ryan Brennan put the seal on a win that moves the Seagulls level on points with Dundalk in second place, nine behind leaders Cork City.

The champions completely bossed the first-half but went into the break without making a breakthrough.

Former Dundalk goalkeeper, Peter Cherrie, dealt with everything that was thrown at him in the opening 45 minutes, turning a fierce drive from Jamie McGrath behind for a corner early on.

Dundalk were able to recall Patrick McEleney and he went close to bringing the house down with a curling effort that just cleared Cherrie’s bar in the 26th minute.

The Seagulls went within inches of edging in front on the half hour mark. Dylan Connolly’s wicked corner from the left took a glance off Brian Gartland’s head and hurtled towards goal but Niclas Vemmelund was on the line to hack the ball to safety.

Dundalk finished the half in the ascendancy but Cherrie looked assured, positioning himself well to gather a David McMillan header.

O’Donnell came on to replace Conor Clifford at the break and Dundalk opened the second-half as they ended the first with Michael Duffy curling a right-footed shot just wide.

The controversy flared four minutes later when McKell adjudged O'Donnell to have pushed Aaron Greene to the deck and McCabe stepped up to squeeze his spot-kick inside Gary Rogers’ left-hand post to stun the natives.

Parity was restored in the 56th minute when O’Donnell raced into the Bray penalty area to dink McMillan’s slide rule pass over the advancing Cherrie.

But the Oriel Park faithful were left seething again when McKell pointed to the spot for a secod time in the 68th minute when Ryan Brennan went down from a free-kick and McCabe stepped up to plant his effort to the goalkeeper’s left again.

And Harry Kenny’s side made sure of the win when Brennan slammed past Rogers to leave Dundalk’s hopes of four-in-a-row in crisis.

DUNDALK - Rogers; Vemmelund, Gartland, Hoare, Massey; Shields, Clifford ( O’Donnell HT); McGrath ( Kinsella 74), McEleney, Duffy ( Stewart 80); McMillan.

BRAY WANDERERS: Cherrie; Buckley, Foran, Clancy, Marks (Moore 78); Sullivan, Salmon; Brennan ( Noone 87), McCabe, Connolly ( Flood 84); Greene.

REFEREE: Jim McKell.

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