Date: 7:45 p.m. Aug. 21, 2009
Venue: Carlisle Grounds
Att: 750 (est)
After a sluggish start, the game burst into life in the sixth minute when Raf Cretaro skipped easily past a static Bray defence and rolled the ball into the bottom left hand corner past a poorly positioned Chris O’Connor. This seemed to wake both teams up and Bray started to apply some pressure on the Sligo defence without creating anything clear-cut. Bray were dealt a blow in the nineteenth minute when striker John Mulroy had to be replaced by substitute Jake Kelly after picking up a knock a few minutes earlier.
A minute later the home side were level when a long ball dropped to Dane Massey on the edge of the Sligo box and he struck a sweet half volley with his left foot into the bottom left hand corner of the net. Rovers reacted well to this setback though, creating a number of chances against a Bray defence who seemed to be pushing too far out the field. Sligo played plenty of long balls in behind the Bray back four for Cretaro to run on to and the minute marksman forced smart saves from O’Connor in both the twenty seventh minute and the thirty eight minute respectively.
Cretaro’s second goal finally came a minute before the break when yet another long ball was mis-headed by Dave Webster straight into Raf’s path and he calmly lobbed the helpless ‘keeper from the edge of the box. Bray did come close to levelling in first half injury time with a well struck 25-yard freekick from Webster which struck the top of the Sligo bar after a slight deflection.
The home side brought on centre-half Derek Foran as a half-time substitute in place of Daire Doyle (with Dave Webster switching to right back) giving the defence a more solid look throughout the second half. It only took Bray two minutes to get the equaliser the home fans were craving. Jake Kelly had his back to goal in the Sligo box and seemed to be going nowhere when the referee spotted a foul on him by Boco and pointed to the spot without hesitation. Gary McCabe stepped up and slotted home the penalty perfectly to the ‘keeper’s left.
Both sides struggled to produce any real openings after that. Boco looked lively for Sligo, making plenty of attacking bursts from his right-back position and sending in some dangerous far-post crosses but these were all dealt with well by the Bray rearguard. In the sixty second minute Eoin Doyle got on the end of a Cretaro cross only to see his side footed effort well saved by O’Connor. The game then became scrappy and a number of players picked up yellow cards.
Gavin Peers made an unexpected appearance when he came on as a replacement for the unconvincing Camano at the heart of the Sligo defence and he was immediately involved in the action, breaking up a number of Bray half chances. Unfortunately for Sligo, he only lasted 23 minutes on the pitch before being stretchered off injured. Bray were reduced to ten men when Dave Mulcahy received his marching orders with ten minutes to go after he picked up his second yellow card of the game for a late challenge on Cretaro.
Despite having numerical advantage Sligo could not find a winner, Cretaro coming closest with a volley late on which was well saved by O’Connor. Bray had the final goal attempt of the game with Derek Foran getting his head onto the end of a corner only to see his goal bound effort easily saved by Brush.
Bray Wanderers: Chris O’Connor; Derek Pender, Daire Doyle (Derek Foran, 45), Dave Webster, Chris Deans; Dave Mulcahy, Dane Massey, Chris Shields, Gary McCabe; John Mulroy (Jake Kelly, 19), John Flood (Gareth Coughlan, 73).
Subs not used: Dave O’Neill, Brian Kane
Sligo Rovers: Richard Brush; Rommy Boco, Joe Kendrick, Alan Keane, Martin Camano (Gavin Peers, 59 (Brian Cash, 82)); Conor O’Grady (Richie Ryan, 59), Owen Morrison, Danny Ventre, Eoin Doyle; Matthew Blinkhorn, Raf Cretaro.
Subs not used: Ciaran Kelly, Dean Marshall
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Rafael Cretaro, took his two goals very well and was at the centre of everything creative from Sligo.
Referee: Tom Connolly