In almost Arctic conditions, Drogheda United came from behind to secure a deserved 2-1 win against a defiant Bray Wanderers.
It’s the Boynesiders first league win of the season, but for the third game running they have had to come from behind. The visitors took the lead on 15 minutes, very much against the run of play when Paul O’Connor was dispossessed by Jason Byrne and the veteran striker played a one-two with Dean Zambra to avoid the challenge of Alan Byrne and from 23 yards out Byrne fired in a thunderous shot which Sava could only palm into the bottom corner.
Drogheda levelled nine minutes into the second half when Eoin Hyland, who was already on a yellow card, handled the ball to intercept a pass to Gavin Brennan right on the edge of the Bray box. The defender was lucky to escape unpunished but Eric Foley stepped up and curled the ball over the wall and into the top right hand corner.
Ryan Brennan and Darren Quigley had played out their own personal battle during the game with the keeper dominating until the 79th minute. Gavin Brennan, once again involved in the build up, broke to the left-hand corner before pulling the ball back to Shane Grimes and the full back sent in an in-swinging ball to the back post where an unmarked Ryan Brennan headed home.
Mick Cooke spoke before the game of his admiration for Bray’s Kieran Marty Waters and it was the winger who had the first shot of the game, however it was a tame effort easily saved by Sava.
From then on however, Drogheda dominated. Dave Webster played an errant pass which Ryan Brennan intercepted and the young midfielder almost lobbed the advancing Quigley but the keeper, at full stretch, diverted the ball away from goal.
Ryan Brennan was always threatening in the Bray box and Quigley was forced into a diving save when the midfielder stabbed the ball toward goal from close range early on.
Danny O’Connor cynically dragged down Ryan Brennan on the edge of the Bray box and Eric Foley saw his free kick get over the wall and down towards the bottom far corner only for Quigley to get down and save.
David Cassidy almost latched onto a through ball only for Quigley to win the footrace and the keeper slid confidently to claim the ball at the midfielders feet. Having been 1-0 down Drogheda were awarded a penalty on 25 minutes, a scramble in the Bray box saw the ball fall to David Cassidy and Gary Dempsey lunged in to bring down the Drogheda player. Declan O’Brien stepped up but his penalty was saved by the trailing leg of Quigley.
Stephen Quigley was next to be denied by the Bray keeper, a corner from Eric Foley was headed out to the edge of the box where the Drogheda full back struck it on the volley and managed to dip it toward the bottom far corner but Darren Quigley was alert to the danger.
Drogheda piled on the pressure from the off in the second half as Gabriel Sava had a cold but quiet afternoon. However, once Drogheda were back on parity Bray began to get more into it, spraying the ball around very easily, but it was in the final third where they struggled.
With time running out the Seagulls pushed more men forward in search of a leveller but they failed to break the Drogheda defence. UCD manager Martin Russell was in the stands scouting Bray who are next up for The Students. The win will set Drogheda up nicely for the first Louth league derby of the season on Friday night.
Drogheda United: Gabriel Sava; Shane Grimes, Alan Byrne, Stephen Quigley; Ryan Brennan, David Cassidy (Graham Rusk 70), Paul O’Conor, Eric Foley (Peter Hynes 85), Gavin Brennan; Declan O’Brien.
Subs not used: Michael Schlingermann, Philip Hand, Cathal Brady, Dean Gaynor, Jason Marks.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; Eoin Hyland (Daire Doyle 61), Dayy O’Connor, David Webster, Kevin Knight; Kieran Marty Waters, Kevin O’Connor, Gary Dempsey, Conor Earley (John Mulroy 70), Dean Zambra; Jason Byrne (Shane O’Neill 78).
Subs Not Used: Ismahil Abinade, Paul Malone, Peter Thomas, Sean Holmes.
Booked: Eric Hyland
Referee: Tom Connolly.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Darren Quigley was MOTM until Ryan Brennan scored the winner, so Ryan Brennan (Drogheda United).