Andrew Dempsey reports from the Carlisle Grounds
It was a night of late, late drama at the Carlisle Grounds as Gary McCabe secured a late point for Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds against high-flying Waterford.
An early goal for Bray was soon cancelled out by a Gavan Holohan headed effort just before half-time.
Courtney Duffus put the Blues in the lead 20 minutes from time before McCabe struck from the penalty spot in injury time for Graham Kelly’s spirited Bray Wanderers side.
Waterford came into this evening's game with one change from their Friday night draw at Tallaght Stadium against Shamrock Rovers as suspended David Webster came back from suspension in place of Derek Daly.
Despite planning on making two changes to their starting 11, Bray were forced into making an unscheduled late change as Rhys Gorman pulled up late on in the pre-match warm-up, Dan McKenna regained his place.
After a spell of early dominance, Bray took a surprise lead in the third minute as Mckenna nodded home from a well-timed ball in from Dylan Hayes on the right..
The goal seemed to spark the Blues into life, and Conor Kenna cleared away a Stanley Aborah through as Waterford looked to hit back in the grand manner
The Blues intensified their efforts as former Bray man Ismahil Akinade flashed wide after some good work on the left-hand side by the Waterford midfield.
Wanderers were given an early concern as goalkeeper Evan Moran went down injured as he took a boot to the head from Akinade, but he was OK to continue.
Waterford looked to have scored their richly deserved equaliser as Akinade hit side netting from a perfectly weighted Paul Keegan free-kick just past the quarter-hour mark.
Soon after that big Waterford chance, Lynch’s cross troubled the Waterford defence as Vigouroux just about hacked the ball away from the lurking Daniel Kelly in the Waterford six-yard box.
For a brief spell, Bray Wanderers looked as if they were going to grab a second as the lively Cory Galvin nearly caught out Vigouroux in the Waterford goal.
A quick McKenna free found the Cork native on the edge of the 18-yard box and he tested the on-loan Swindon Town goalkeeper with a cross-turned-shot the keeper had to tip over the bar.
Waterford responded and Duffus’ curling effort was held with by Evan Moran as Alan Reynolds’ side were roared on by a vociferous travelling support at the sparsely-populated Carlisle Grounds.
The Blues’ best chance of the half was yet to come as the physical presence that is Bastien Héry saw his guilt-edged opportunity fly miles over a relieved Evan Moran in the Bray Wanderers goal.
Wanderers went close next as Bray's attacking threat Kelly saw his free header at the back of a crowded six-yard box balloon over Vigouroux’s goal as the Blues' one-goal deficit remained intact.
Despite their determined defending, Wanderers relinquished their lead two minutes before half time as Paul Keegan swung in an inviting ball into the Bray Wanderers penalty area, and former Galway United star Gavan Holohan nodded the ball home.
Waterford started the second half off the way they finished the first as Stanley Aborah almost found Evan Moran’s net with a delicious curling effort that looked to be a nailed-on goal.
Héry saw his 30-yard effort blocked down by Sean Heaney in the Bray Wanderers defence as the Blues intensified their efforts looking for a goal.
Bray, despite being pinned back, did show signs of their clear quality as they broke with purpose, as they put a Waterford defence under pressure on the counter attack.
McCabe looked to have found his way into a great scoring position before he went down under no apparent foul, which resulted in a yellow card for the former Shamrock Rovers man.
Like the first half, Waterford did most of the pressing as Gavan Holohan saw his gilt-edged chance in go wide of Moran’s goal as the Seagulls lived a dangerous life on the seaside.
Bray were the next to have a big opportunity after that as Paul O’Conor saw his golden chance go straight down the throat of Lawrence Vigouroux.
That miss was to prove costly as, soon after, Waterford took their well-earned lead through a Courtney Duffus goal in the 69th minute.
The dangerous former Irish under-21 forward beat his way through the Bray defence and gave the Blues a well-deserved lead after took down Akinade's flick and smashed the ball past a helpless Moran.
The Blues were somewhat unlucky not to extend their lead as the ever-impressive Akinade saw his glancing header being well saved by Moran in the under-siege Bray goal.
Ins spite of Waterford’s dominance, Graham Kelly’s side did have their chances as Paul O’Conor really should have restored parity for the Seagulls.
His headed effort skewed wide of Vigouroux’s goal after Cory Galvin looked to have created the perfect opportunity for the side languishing at the bottom of the table to draw level.
The drama was yet to come as Kelly was hauled down by Vigouroux as he looked to pull the trigger from the edge of the six-yard box, benefiting from a David Webster mistake.
Up stepped McCabe, who put the ball past a despairing keeper's hand as the Seagulls grabbed a point that takes them within five of ninth-placed Sligo Rovers.
Bray Wanderers: Evan Moran; Dylan Hayes, Conor Kenna, Sean Heaney, Kevin Lynch; Dan McKenna, Paul O’Conor, Gary McCabe, Daniel Kelly, Cory Galvin; Rónán Coughlan.
Subs not used: Darragh Gibbons, Adam Dempsey, Jake Ellis, Ger Pender, Shane Flynn, Andrew McGovern, Calvin Rogers.
Booked: Rónán Coughlan (19), Dylan Hayes (42), Gary McCabe (53).
Waterford: Lawrence Vigouroux; Dylan Barnett, David Webster, Rory Feely, Sander Puri; Paul Keegan, Gavan Holohan, Bastien Héry, Stanley Aborah; Courtney Duffus (Dean O’Halloran 86), Ishmael Akinade.
Subs not used: Niall Corbet (gk), Faysel Kasmi, Derek Daly, John Martin, Dean Walsh, Colm Whelan.
Booked: Lawrence Vigouroux (90+1).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer.
Attendance: 392 (official).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Gary McCabe (Bray Wanderers).