Man of the Match Gary McCabe won the free kick that led to the decisive goal.

League Report: Bray Wanderers 2 - 1 Drogheda United
Published: August 18, 2017

By John McDermott at the Carlisle Grounds


Bray Wanderers rekindled their European hopes with a convincing 2-1 home victory against relegation-threatened Drogheda United.


Goals from Hugh Douglas and Aaron Greene for Bray and Chris Mulhall for Drogheda provided evidence of an entertaining night at the Carlisle Grounds.


Drogheda started with the same team that beat Evergreen FC 4-0 in the FAI Cup last weekend, while Bray made two changes from their 0-0 draw at Sligo Rovers on Tuesday night with Kevin Lynch and Darragh Noone coming in for Mark Salmon and Ger Pender.


It was the away side with a game less in their legs who started the game the better and who almost scored early on through a gifted opportunity.


After a poor pass out from Peter Cherrie, Mulhall capitalised on the ball. Looking certain to score, his strike was somehow blocked off the line by Conor Kenna.


The ball came back to Mulhall who mis-controlled at first but then gathered the ball into his path and took another shot. Again, with the keeper out of position, Kenna was back on the line to save his side again and knock the ball out for a corner.


Drogheda continued in search of a goal as Jack Bayly got the ball in midfield and played it into the feet of Mulhall. He easily turned on the ball and deceived his marker Tim Clancy, before powering a low drive towards goal. However, Cherrie was relieved to see it go narrowly wide to the right of his post.


Midway through the first half, a good move presented another opportunity for Drogheda. Bayly received the ball high up the pitch, and moved forward with the ball before playing in the overlapping left back Conor Kane on the left, who hit a fierce shot first time high and over the bar.


Minutes later right back Shane Elworthy came forward with the ball, before playing it out wide to Adam Wixted. He then played a lovely low cross into the box for the continued run of Elworthy.


Kenna’s failed attempt at blocking the cross allowed the ball to fall kindly into the path of Elworthy. From ten yards out he blasted the ball over the bar when he should have at least tested Cherrie.


On the half hour mark, the game began to turn in Bray’s favour. A brilliant move forward offered Karl Moore the opportunity to cross the ball into the back post. Ryan Brennan was arriving but Kane made a timely block to stop the shot from going on target, conceding a corner.


A dead ball offered Bray’s next opportunity. Wixted fouled McCabe just to the left of the box and gave away a free kick in a dangerous position for Bray. McCabe then decided to curl in a shot which struck Stephen McGuinness’ crossbar and bounced safely away.


However, only a minute later the breakthrough came for the home side. Kane was forced to concede a corner after great pressure from right back Douglas. Lynch stepped up and crossed the corner into the box and Douglas was on hand to head the ball powerfully into the net.


Drogheda were offered a great opportunity to equalise before half time however. Clancy was too slow to a crossed ball and gave away a free kick right on the edge of the box on Mulhall, after a great run from Wixted.


Sean Russell curled a shot towards goal that came off the inside of the post, rebounded off Mulhall after he had followed the shot into the box, and somehow it managed to bounce away from the goal. A massive let off for Bray.


Five minutes into the second half the game had its second and decisive goal. Bray came forward through McCabe, before he was pulled down just at the edge of the box. This time Aaron Greene stepped up and curled the ball into the top left corner, with McGuinness unsighted and rooted to his line.


Bray began to take complete control of the game as Drogheda started to look ragged in midfield. However, Drogheda’s team spirit remained high as they kept fighting for every block and challenge.


However, a tactical change on the hour mark saw Drogheda bring Thomas Byrne into the game in place of Jake Hyland, and the Drogs suddenly seemed to have more space and options in midfield as they came back into the game.


Greene foolishly gave a free kick away at the edge of his box, and his decision would lead to a goal and a way back into the game for the away side. Russell stepped up and hit the free into the wall, but it ricocheted off a head and into the right side of the box.


Thomas Byrne was there to pick up the ball and he crossed low into the six yard box where Mulhall got ahead of his marker to turn the ball in. A melee ignited immediately as Cherrie refused to give the Drogs the ball back quickly. Both Cherrie and Mulhall received bookings for their involvement.


In the final stages of the game, Drogheda introduced Ryan Masterson into the game and he was involved in some half chances, including an ambitious acrobatic effort which he didn’t truly connect with as it went wide without troubling Cherrie.


In the final minute of stoppage time, Drogheda won a corner and a final chance to equalise. Thomas Byrne’s inswinging cross found the unmarked Elworthy six yards out and he powered a header goalwards but it was too high and a golden opportunity was wasted.


So Bray earned their first win in seven games, indeed their first win since June, and perhaps have given themselves a slight hope of earning a top four place.


Drogheda must rally again after tonight’s defeat as their Premier Division survival looks even bleaker, but first they’ll turn their attention to the FAI Cup next weekend as they return to action against non-league opposition again, this time in the form of Cobh Wanderers.



Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie; Hugh Douglas, Conor Kenna, Tim Clancy, Kevin Lynch (Jake Ellis, 90); Ryan Brennan, Darragh Noone (Mark Salmon, 69), John Sullivan, Gary McCabe, Karl Moore (Jason Marks, 85); Aaron Greene.


Subs not used: Lee Steacy, Jamie Aherne, Ger Pender, Calvin Rogers.


Booked: Aaron Green (66), Peter Cherrie (68), Gary McCabe (90+3).


Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness; Shane Elworthy, Stephen Dunne, David Mulcahy, Conor Kane; Adam Wixted (Ryan Masterson, 80), Richie Purdy, Jake Hyland (Thomas Byrne, 61), Jack Bayly, Sean Russell (Mark Doyle, 84); Chris Mulhall.


Subs not used: Luke Gallagher, Lloyd Buckley, Harry Hogan, Ryan McEvoy.


Booked: Shane Elworthy (49), Chris Mulhall (68).


Referee: Ben Connolly.

Attendance: 558. Player of the Match: Gary McCabe (Bray Wanderers).

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John McDermott

John's love affair with Irish football began with trips to Lansdowne Road with his dad during the 1994 World Cup qualifying. Since then, he's spread his love to the League of Ireland, where he holds no allegiances, except for the progression of Irish football. He runs an Irish football betting blog which you can find on twitter @batigol_bets or else you can follow him personally on twitter @noddysseus

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