Bray Wanderers held Bohemians to a 0-0 draw in Dalymount Park on Firday night but the home side’s manager Aaron Callaghan will be wondering how his team didn’t manage to score a hatful.
The visitors had to do without the services of Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters and John Mulroy and the Bray attack struggled considerably in their absence. Bohemians dominated in terms of possession and created more chances but lacked cutting edge in the final third after wasting a host of chances.
As they have done for much of this term, Bohs packed the middle with Dwayne Wilson operating as the lone striker up front. The tactic worked in that it limited the Bray attack and allowed Keith Ward to continuously pump long balls in Wilson’s direction.
The hosts first chance was worked from a similar ploy – centre back Evan McMillan finding Ryan McEvoy deep in the Bray half. The midfielder took a touch before rifling an effort off the top of the crossbar. Bray would hit the crossbar again before the night was out as the men from Wicklow rode their luck.
That was the closest Bohs came to breaking the deadlock in the opening half, with Darren Quigley in the visitors’ goal remaining relatively unfazed throughout.
Jason Byrne, operating as the lone striker for Bray, too often found himself isolated and crowded out by the impressive McMillan and Kevin Feely. Despite this however, Bray could have snatched the lead on the half hour mark when winger Adam Hanlon crossed low. A mix up between goalkeeper Andy McNulty and McMillan saw the ball fall to Sean Houston. His shot was blocked behind however after some desperate defending.
Outside of that, there was little to report. Keith Ward, who pulled the strings for much of the game before being substituted, went close with a free kick from the left ten minutes before the break.
The result was the same too for Buckley on the right after some neat build-up play minutes later. There were speculative efforts from both sides. Robert Lopes’s wayward effort on 45 minutes typified the opening half.
Pat Devlin’s men were a lot sharper immediately after the restart. Byrne almost picked McNulty’s pocket when the keeper dawdled in possession in his box before Lee Dixon, a deadline day transfer from Bohemians, saw his shot flash over from 25 yards.
But after that, normal service was resumed as the hosts retook the ascendency but proceeded to waste a glut of chances. First Kevin Feely spurned a glorious chance to head Bohemians in front. His effort was three yards too high after Keith Ward whipped in an inviting ball from a free kick.
Bray played their get out of jail card again five minutes later. This time it was Dave Mulcahy who wasted the chance. After Wilson slipped the ball inside, the winger didn’t attack the ball with any real menace and a combination of Quigley and Shane O’Connor cleaned up the danger.
On 66 minutes, Karl Moore whipped a ball in from the right. It flew by several bodies in the box – Keith Buckley reacted quickest but couldn’t turn the ball home.
In a rare foray for Bray, full back Dane Massey surged forward but could only poke into the side-netting before substitute Stephen Traynor and Sean Houston exchanged efforts at either end. But the sides remained deadlocked.
Ten minutes from the end, another substitute went close for the home side. Reverting to the long ball tactic that they seldom used in the second half, Dinny Corcoran beat Quigley to the ball deep in the Bray his half. But his beautifully dinked effort hopped off the bar and over. The woodwork had come to Bray’s rescue once again.
Wilson had the last chance deep in injury time but when he blazed over, it was clear the powers above had decided Bray were going to hold out for what could prove to be a valuable point.
Bohemians: Andy McNulty; Derek Pender (Dinny Corcoran, 67), Evan McMillan, Kevin Feely, Roberto Lopes; Keith Buckley, Keith Ward (Stephen Traynor, 73), Karl Moore (Andy Mulligan, 88), Ryan McEvoy, Dave Mulcahy; Dwayne Wilson.
Subs not used: Craig Sexton, John O’Connor, Adam Martin, Michael Barker.
Booked: E McMillan (46), Moore (82).
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; Shane O'Connor, Adam Mitchell, Danny O’Connor, Dane Massey; Adam Hanlon (Dean Marshall, 83), Kevin O’Connor, Dean Zambra, Sean Houston (Jonathan Kelty, 88), Lee Dixon (Ismahil Akinade, 70); Jason Byrne.
Subs not used: Brian Kane, David Webster, Daire Doyle, Kevin Knight.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Extratime Man of the Match: Keith Ward.