Bray Wanderers managed to earn a share of the spoils with a 2-2 draw against UCD in the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night, despite having their goalkeeper sent off before half-time.
Perhaps it was a little early in the season to be calling this game a relegation six pointer but that’s certainly how it felt on a chilly evening at the Carlisle Grounds. Both teams have had less than ideal starts to the season meaning this was a chance for them to pick up some points.
The game began at a lightning quick pace with Bray applying all of the early pressure. Just four minutes in The Seagulls found themselves 1-0 up courtesy of Jason Byrne. A lobbed ball into the box from Dean Zambra on the right-wing was contested by Byrne and Gareth Matthews. Neither could get a decent head on the ball and it fell kindly to the former Shelbourne and Bohemians who smashed home from six yards.
UCD were nearly back on level terms just minutes later however. A lucky deflection saw the ball fall to David McMillan just six yards from goal but he was denied by an excellent Darren Quigley save.
The Students looked comfortable despite being a goal down and on 20 minutes they were back in the game. A long ball down the right-wing was met with a sublime first touch from Gary Burke. He squared it to the unmarked David McMillan in the box who shot past Darren Quigley and into the Bray net.
UCD grew in confidence after the goal and came close again on 28 minutes when Danny O’Connor headed over from a corner.
Bray were not to be discouraged though and almost went back ahead after 31 minutes. Gary Dempsey found the ever dangerous Kieran ‘Marty’ Water on the left-wing with a precision pass. The 22-year-old was allowed to run into the Bray box and shoot from a tight angle but Mark McGinley was equal to it, saving at his near post.
Eleven minutes later and half of the Carlisle Grounds thought that Bray had gone back ahead when Danny O’Connor headed into the side netting as he met a cross from Waters.
Then, right on the stroke of half-time, the drama unfolded.
UCD were awarded a controversial penalty when Gary Burke was pulled down by Darren Quigley in The Seagulls’ box. Neil Doyle promptly pointed to the spot and proceeded to show Quigley a red card. As it was mere seconds before half-time, midfielder Daire Doyle took the gloves and stood in goal for the penalty. However, despite a good effort, he couldn’t keep out David McMillan’s spot kick meaning UCD went into the break with a 2-1 lead that they perhaps didn’t deserve on the balance of play.
The second half started at a much slower pace with UCD in the ascendency thanks to Bray being down a man.
Indeed the Students almost went two goals ahead when they hit Bray on the counter attack after a spell of pressure from The Seagulls. Sean Russell’s run down the right flank allowed him to square to David McMillan who was completely unmarked. McMillan advanced on goal but fired his shot well over the bar, wasting a good chance.
Three minutes later and Mark McGinley was forced to make a point blank save when Gary Dempsey was played through on goal by John Mulroy.
UCD had a succession of chances within three minutes of each other with twenty minutes to go that would have seen them seal the game. First Sean Russell and then Dinny Corcoran were denied by the substitute goalkeeper, Sean Holmes.
Then, after 80 minutes, UCD were made to pay for their missed chances. A quick free-kick taken by Gary Dempsey found Jason Byrne at the back post. He lobbed it over Mark McGinley, finding John Mulroy right on the goal line and the substitute applied the finishing touch.
It was a goal that Bray probably deserved as they had worked tirelessly despite having a man sent off.
Mulroy went close again just two minutes later when his attempted lob landed on the roof of the net with McGinley stranded.
Even though Bray were a player less than UCD for the entire second half, they ended the game the stronger. Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters first took the ball around Mark McGinley but just over ran it before Jason Byrne curled a shot narrowly wide.
In the end a draw was a fair result as both sides played good football at stages. Bray’s resilience was certainly to be admired as they didn’t allow the sending off to affect them.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; David Webster (Ismahil Akinade, 70), Kevin Knight, Eoin Hyland (Sean Holmes, 46), Danny O’Connor (c); Daire Doyle, Gary Dempsey, Kevin O’Connor (John Mulroy, 46), Dean Zambra, Keiran ‘Marty’ Waters; Jason Byrne.
Subs not used: Conor Early, Shane O’Neill, Paul Malone, Peter Thomas.
Sent off: Darren Quigley (45).
UCD: Mark McGinley; James Kavanagh (Craig Walsh, 46), Gareth Matthews, David O’Connor (c), Sean Coyne; Gary Burke, Robbue Creevy, Thomas Boyle, Sean Russell, Dean Clarke (Dinny Corcoran, 60); David McMillan.
Subs not used: Ger Barron, Tom O’Halloran, Barry McCabe, Tyrone McNelis, Hugh Douglas.
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Attendance: 350 (estimate).
Extratime.ie man of the match: John Mulroy (Bray Wanderers) - He gave Bray a creative outlet in the midfield after he came on at half-time. He was at the centre of all attacks and pulled the strings for The Seagulls in the second half.