Ryan McEvoy’s 79th-minute equaliser kept Limerick on the bottom of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table as they twice let the lead slip in a 2-2 draw with Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds on Saturday evening.
Bray had started the brighter but Limerick hit the front past the quarter-hour. After Dean Clarke’s strike was pushed behind by Peter Cherrie, Ian Turner’s corner was knocked down at the back post where Clarke was on hand to finish from close range.
But the home side equalised immediately when a low cross was met by the in-rushing McEvoy who had the simplest of tasks to score.
Limerick, though, responded well to that setback and restored their advantage ten minutes before the break when Turner’s cross was met wonderfully by Vinny Faherty who left his former Dundalk teammate with little hope.
Bray thought they had levelled for a second time shortly before when Chris Lyons finished off a well-worked corner but the linesman’s flag denied him, as the Blues went in with the as-it-stands table seeing them lifted off the bottom.
Into the second half, Turner was somehow denied a goal by the foot of Cherrie who produced heroics. Seconds later, Lyons fired inches wide before Clarke was denied what appeared a clear penalty and then McEvoy headed over when well placed.
But it was McEvoy that levelled it up late on when he struck to the bottom corner. Limerick had one final chance, deep in injury-time but substitute Darragh Rainsford saw his header denied by another top-drawer save from Cherrie.
Limerick manager Martin Russell made two changes to the team that lined out in the win over Saint Patrick’s Athletic at the Markets Field a fortnight earlier. Suspended pair Shaun Kelly and Paul O’Conor were replaced by Robbie Williams and Seán Russell.
Bray were without banned pair Hugh Douglas and David Scully, who were replaced by Michael Barker and Peter McGlynn from their previous league outing, a scoreless draw at home to Cork City.
Bray threatened on 11 minutes when McEvoy got in behind but a first-time effort from a difficult angle on the left of the box drifted wide.
It was from a Bray corner that Limerick eventually found the breakthrough. Goalkeeper Freddy Hall collected and quickly released Lee-J Lynch whose cross-field pass picked out Clarke, the forward gliding past a number of players before forcing a fine save from Cherrie who palmed it behind.
From the resulting corner by Turner, Kanyuka knocked the ball down at the back post and Clarke prodded it in. However, within 60 seconds Bray were level when a low cross was met by McEvoy in the six-yard box where he could not miss.
On 25 minutes, Cherrie’s clearance fell to Clarke on the far left and after setting himself he sent a fine lob which narrowly missed the target with the Scottish ‘keeper back-pedalling.
Ten minutes later, Limerick retook the lead when Turner’s pace allowed him to reach the ball as it sped towards the by-line and his cross into the area was met with an unstoppable first-time finish from Faherty.
Four minutes before the break, a well-worked Bray corner ended up in the net through Chris Lyons but he was flagged for offside to loud cheers from the sizeable travelling support.
Early in the second half, Lynch saw a 20-yard shot go harmlessly wide after good build-up play. On 56 minutes, Clarke did brilliantly getting past his man and pulling the ball back for Turner whose low strike looked certain to hit the net but Cherrie reacted superbly to get a foot to the ball.
Bray then almost scored as Kelly set up Lyons and his low strike went just past the upright. On 62 minutes, Clarke was fouled in the box by Michael Barker but no penalty was awarded.
Then Daniel O’Reilly’s cross was met by McEvoy in the box but from close in he headed over. The former Bohs man, though, made no mistake on 79 minutes when he fired a low shot to the bottom corner to level it at 2-2.
Limerick almost won it at the death when Turner’s delivery was met by Rainsford but Cherrie got across to palm clear the header, as the Blues were forced to settle for a point, extending their unbeaten run to seven games.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie, Michael Barker, Niall Cooney, Alan McNally, Daniel O’Reilly, John Sullivan, Ryan McEvoy, David Cassidy © (Adam Wixted 90), Peter McGlynn (Adam Hanlon 63), Graham Kelly, Chris Lyons. Goals: R McEvoy (19, 79). Booked: M Barker (67), D Cassidy (89). Unused Subs: Seán Fogarty (GK), Adam Mitchell, Emeka Onwubiko, Luke Fitzpatrick, Luke Gallagher.
Limerick: Freddy Hall, Tony Whitehead, Patrick Kanyuka, Robbie Williams, Shane Tracy (Darragh Rainsford 84), Shane Duggan ©, Lee-J Lynch (Prince Agyemang 84), Ian Turner, Seán Russell, Dean Clarke, Vinny Faherty. Goals: D Clarke (18), V Faherty (35). Booked: F Hall (40). Unused Subs: Tommy Holland (GK), Shane Costelloe, Val Feeney, Paudie O’Connor, Cyril Guedjé.
Referee: Ray Matthews (Westmeath).
Report Date: Saturday 19 September 2015