The seaside sun proved too much for Shelbourne on Friday night when a second half meltdown saw them throw away the lead to draw 1-1 with Bray Wanderers. Kieran Marty Waters’ second-half leveller means they’ll have to do it all again after Barry Clancy had given the Dublin side a half-time lead.
The ease at which Shels bossed the first half was matched only by the complete turnaround in the second.
Arguably the visitors were made all the more impressive in the opening 45’ by Bray’s lack of bite in the middle and weak attacking threat throughout. Pat Devlin’s defence too was exposed time and time again and when the opener finally arrived ten minutes before the break there was a sense of inevitability and not if, but by how much.
Before the goal Shels had gone close on a number of occasions. Glenn Cronin’s rasping volley after only five minutes was a sign of thing to come.
Paddy Kavanagh, playing on the left side of the Shels’ attack, was a constant menace in the opening half for the visitors. He broke out of defence rapidly and a quicker pass to forward Philip Gorman might have spelled trouble for Bray. The move broke down however when Philly Hughes’ shot was easily dealt with.
David Cassidy threatened next and really should have taken advantage when Danny O’Connor allowed a long ball to bounce inside the Bray box. Cassidy squeezed in between defender and goalkeeper Darren Quigley but fired over.
Hughes had two shots in quick succession approaching the half hour mark but it was strike partner Gorman who was most guilty of spurning a glorious chance when he could only head Kevin Dawson’s floated cross straight at Quigley.
Bray offered little in attack. The ever potent Jason Byrne hooked a volley just yards wide on 33 minutes. But it was a rare home chance and only two minutes later the opening goal duly arrived for Shels as Barry Clancy’s 35 yard free-kick from well out on the right evaded the touch of Andy Boyle to bounce into Darren Quigley’s top corner. The goal summed up the Bray effort.
Credit must got to the hosts though who improved immeasurably after the goal. Just before the break Kieran Marty Waters could have equalised when Adam Hanlon and Jason Byrne linked up on the edge of the Shels’ box. His effort was well saved and indeed 1-1 at the break would have been an injustice on the balance of play.
Shels’ dominance was powered by them holding the upper hand in the middle. Cronin and Cassidy trumped Bray but surprisingly Devlin opted not to make any changes despite the apparent need for midfield reinforcement.
The manager’s perseverance was richly rewarded with a much improved performance in the second-half. Finally they began to show some hunger and regained the upper hand from Messrs Cronin and Cassidy.
And with possession came goal scoring chances too. They worked the ball forward much quicker where Kieran Marty Waters looked most menacing. Before his goal, defender Adam Hanlon was just inches away from equalising when his angled header bounced off the crossbar. Again it was another sign of things to come.
The equaliser arrived on 63 minutes when Marty Waters chased down a long ball, beating Dean Delany to the loose ball inside the box after Andy Boyle had attempted to head back to his ‘keeper. He touched away from Delany before rolling home to make it 1-1. Now the hosts had the impetus as Shelbourne melted in the Seaside sunshine.
Bray pushed on and had chances to steal it at the death. John Mulroy played a sublime pass into the path of Waters who, one-on-one with Delany, could only push an 18 yard effort just wide. In injury time Jason Byrne headed over from a tight angle after Adam Hanlon crossed.
The sides will renew acquaintances on Monday night.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; Kevin Knight, Danny O’Connor, Pierce Sweeney, David Webster; Adam Hanlon, Sean Houston, John Mulroy (Jonathan Kelty, 89), Kieran Marty Waters, Dean Zambra, Jason Byrne.
Subs not used: Adam Mitchell, Dane Massey, Graham Kelly, Brian Kane, Daire Doyle, Anthony Bolger.
Booked: Houston (20), D O’Connor, Knight.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; Barry Clancy, Andrew Boyle, Gareth Matthews (Ian Ryan, 72), Brian Shortall; Kevin Dawson, Glenn Cronin, David Cassidy, Paddy Kavanagh (Brendan McGill, 86); Philip Hughes (Anto Murphy, 72), Philip Gorman.
Subs not used: Sean Byrne, Conan Byrne, Paul Skinner, Paul Byrne.
Booked: Paddy Kavanagh (73), Barry Clancy (86).
Referee: Damien Hancock.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Kieran Marty Waters (Bray Wanderers).