David Scully’s last-minute free-kick secured a valuable three points for Bray Wanderers in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division as they defeated Limerick 1-0 at the Markets Field on Saturday night.
There were chances at both ends in the opening half, with captain Shane Duggan shooting narrowly wide while Paul O’Conor also had an effort deflected just off target.
Bray threatened through Gareth McDonagh’s cross which was almost diverted into his own by Robbie Williams, before the following corner was somehow cleared off the line after being met by Hugh Douglas.
The returning Lee-J Lynch should have put Limerick ahead on the hour-mark when he was put through on goalkeeper Peter Cherrie, but the Scot – who won the league with Dundalk last year and making his Seagulls debut – produced a brilliant stop.
Limerick’s hopes received a huge blow then as Seán Harding was sent-off for a second bookable offence. And, having threatened a breakthrough with their advantage, Bray eventually found it with Scully’s late drive.
Limerick boss Martin Russell made two changes to the team that lined out in the defeat by Dundalk eight days earlier as Ian Turner and the re-signed Lynch started in place of Jason Hughes and Darragh Rainsford. Bray included Cherrie.
Before the game, the club extended its sincere condolences to their former player Anthony Hayes and his family, Drogheda United midfielder Stephen Maher and his family, and the Noonan family.
Bray – who were dealt a blow when their captain David Cassidy failed a fitness test before kick-off, and with manager Trevor Croly having left – put strong pressure on the home defence in the opening moments and forced three straight corners.
Limerick then had a shout for a penalty when Seán Russell was pushed in the box, before Duggan’s low strike was saved by Cherrie who gathered at the second attempt.
Before the quarter-hour, Dean Clarke put Turner through but, under a little pressure, he fired wildly over.
On 21 minutes, Russell and Shane Tracy combined down the left and the latter’s cross eventually fell to Paul O’Conor at the back post and his shot was deflected just off target. At the other end, Peter McGlynn’s strike was well held by Conor O’Donnell.
Then another Tracy cross was punched out by Cherrie, to Duggan on the edge of the box and the skipper controlled on his chest before sending a strike agonisingly past the upright.
On 34 minutes, Bray threatened when McDonagh’s right-wing cross was almost headed into his own net by Williams. From McGlynn’s resulting corner, Douglas met the ball powerfully at the back post but it was somehow stopped on the line.
At the start of the second half, Tracy saw a drive from distance held by Cherrie while O’Donnell did just enough to deny a low strike and the hosts cleared the danger with Chris Lyons following in.
Aidan Price had picked up a knock in trying to defend that attack and he was soon forced off and replaced by 17-year-old Paudie O’Connor, for his first appearance at the Markets Field.
Limerick should have been ahead on 59 minutes when Lynch went through on goal but Cherrie produced heroics to deny him. And then the game totally turned against the home side as they were reduced to ten men, Harding seeing a second yellow.
On 73 minutes – as Bray looked to take advantage of the extra man – McDonagh’s ball over the top almost put McGlynn through but O’Connor covered well to cut out the opportunity.
With eight minutes remaining, a clever back-heel put McDonagh in on goal but his strike was pushed behind by O’Donnell. But Bray did grab a winner in the dying seconds as Scully drilled in a free-kick from 20-yards, to send Limerick deeper into relegation trouble.
Limerick: Conor O’Donnell, Sean Harding, Aidan Price (Paudie O’Connor 56), Robbie Williams, Shane Tracy, Shane Duggan ©, Paul O’Conor, Ian Turner (Darragh Rainsford 70), Lee-J Lynch, Seán Russell, Dean Clarke. Booked: S Harding (25, 60). A Price (40), S Russell (67). Sent-Off: S Harding (60). Unused Subs: Tommy Holland (GK), Jason Hughes, Prince Agyemang, Seán McSweeney, Kieran Hanlon.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie, Hugh Douglas, Niall Cooney, Alan McNally, Michael Barker, Ryan McEvoy, John Sullivan; Peter McGlynn (Adam Hanlon 79), Graham Kelly, Gareth McDonagh (David Scully 84), Chris Lyons (Emeka Onwubiko 71). Goal: D Scully (90). Booked: P McGlynn (17). Unused Subs: Jack Memery, Peter Durrad, Daniel O’Reilly, James O’Donnell.
Referee: Robert Harvey (Dublin). Attendance: 1,452 (Official).
Report Date: Saturday 4 July 2015