Shelbourne -v- Bray WanderersThu, Sep 27 2012
The Reds are looking for their third win on the bounce on Friday night after an encouraging couple of weeks. Last week’s 1-0 win against Dundalk in Oriel Park was their first in the league in eight attempts. The week before, they knocked Shamrock Rovers out of the FAI Cup with a 2-1 win to set up a semi-final meeting with Derry City in two weeks time.
An uninspiring mid-season spell saw Shels drop down the table after a good start to the season, but Alan Mathews’s side are still six points and two places above this week’s opponents. Before the win against Dundalk, their last win in the league came against Bray. That night in the Carlisle grounds, David Cassidy, Philly Gorman and ex-Seagull Paddy Kavanagh struck to send Shels home with a 3-2 win.
Shelbourne’s record against Bray this season has been good- with a 2-1 EA Sports cup loss back in early April the only blip in an otherwise perfect record. Apart from the aforementioned 3-2 win, Shels beat Wanderers 2-1 in Bray in the league and 1-0 in an FAI cup replay; the first leg of which ended 1-1.
A win could see the Reds climb as high as fifth in the table, but they may have to play without both of this season’s regular strikers- Philly Hughes and Philly Gorman – who are injury doubts. Paul Byrne could retain his place up front, with Stephen Sheeran expected to continue his run in the squad. Stephen Paisley is supended, after picking up four yellow cards, and Anto Murphy also misses out after being handed an additional two-game suspension for being sent off against Pat’s.
For the Seagulls, Friday night is a crucial opportunity to ensure involvement in next season's Premier Division. A win could move them eleven points clear of Dundalk and above UCD – with only tricky matches against Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians to come. A loss could prolong Dundalk’s hopes of avoiding the playoff.
Although Shels have won three of the five meetings between the sides this season, Bray can take heart from their 2-1 EA Sports Cup win in Tolka Park earlier thsi season. It took an extra-time goal from Sean Houston, but Wanderers knocked Shels out- however since then they haven’t beaten the Reds.
Manager Pat Devlin acknowledged Shels status as a trick team for his side this season. "Shelbourne have been a difficult side for us this season,” he said, “they have been our bogey team. I hope we can get the bit of luck that has been missing on Friday night.”
For Devlin, the route to Bray’s victory is clear: “We just need to find the net.” Bray held league leaders Sligo Rovers to a goalless draw last week, and the week before they fell to a 2-0 loss in Cork. Indeed, Devlin’s side has scored just five times in their last ten league matches.
With Kevin O’Connor returning from suspension, Bray have a full squad to choose from. Ex-manager Eddie Gormley also joined the backroom staff mid-week, where he will assist with first team coaching.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Poor form against Shels isn’t just a recent phenomenon for the Seagulls- Bray have won just three of their 31 league meetings with Shels, with five ending as draws.
Between them, the Shels duo of Philly Hughes and Philly Gorman – who are both doubtful this Friday – have scored 17 of the club’s 30 league goals- or 56.6% of their total haul.
Bray have to look back to March 10, 2006, a 2-2 draw with current player Jason Byrne scoring both Shels goals, for the last time they took league points away from Tolka Park.
Shelbourne 10/11; Draw 12/5; Bray Wanderers 11/4.
A Shels win, probably by a slender margin. I’ll say 2-1.
Shels Injury News: Philly Hughes (doubtful), Philly Gorman (doubtful).
Shels Suspension News: Stephen Paisley, Anto Murphy.
Bray Injury News: None.
Bray Suspension News: None.
Niall Farrell is our correspondent at Tolka Park, covering the goings-on at Shelbourne. You can visit Niall's website for further information and contact details- niallf.net.