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Wanderers welcome Shamrock Rovers to the seaside on Monday night (7.45pm kick off) in a season that started well for them claiming a point on the opening night of the league campaign up in Oriel Park against Dundalk, but has taken a disastrous turn ever since.
They have lost ten competitive games on the bounce – conceding an average of three goals per game. Wanderers were eliminated from the EA Sports Cup at the first hurdle by First Division Shelbourne losing 3-0 at the Carlisle Grounds. They lost to their opponents on Monday night Shamrock Rovers 6-0 in Tallaght in the second game this season and they lost their manager Dave Mackey last week due to resignation.
Graham Kelly has come in as caretaker manager “for the foreseeable future” according to the club although there has been much discussion about Martin Russell taking over duties in the dugout.
Bray’s nine-in-a-row defeats in the league is a club record. In recent years Limerick went 21 league games without a win – when Martin Russell their manager in the Premier Division back in 2015.
At least last Friday night Bray put in a decent performance against Dundalk at the Carlisle Grounds. Having trailed to a 26 minute Pat Hoban goal, the Seagulls stayed in the game only to be undone in injury time with John Mountney adding a second for the Lilywhites.
Bray beat the Hoops twice at the Carlisle Grounds last season. They were riding high towards the top of the table when they beat Rovers 4-2 in May. That was their first win over Rovers in six seasons. They followed that up with a 1-0 win over the Hoops in the penultimate game of the 2017 season. Aaron Greene scored the winner that night.
Speaking ahead of the game the opposition Head Coach Stephen Bradley had this to say about Bray.
“I had Bray watched against Dundalk and by all accounts they were a lot better than what they have been all season. I think they missed one or two chances early on and it could have been a different game.”
Monday may be the night for Bray to win their first game of the season when they take on a Rovers side who had a demoralising defeat to Bohemians on Friday night.
The Hoops had called last Friday Flag Day as they encouraged their fans to bring their flags to the game. However, it was Bohemians who were waving the flag of victory as they struck a 99th minute winner to make it back-to-back Dublin Derby wins in Tallaght and the Gypsies third win-in-a-row against the Hoops.
Rovers had taken the lead after a remarkable Dan Carr back heeled volley goal only to concede an equaliser on 69 minutes. The corner flag was broken during Bohs goal celebration which accounted for the amount of injury time in the game and when that ended the Hoops had lost their unbeaten home record for this season.
"Obviously I was disappointed with the level of our performance,” said Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley speaking to shamrockrovers.ie. “As a group we know we didn't perform but we still should manage the game better and at least win the game from a winning position.
“That's a disappointing aspect of the whole night, even though you don't play well, you're 1-0 up and could have been 2-0 up but then lose the game. Gary Shaw had a header cleared off the line. The pull back to him as well and Joel's chance, I think we would have been worth a point at least.”
The Hoops had only let in one goal at home all season but the concession of two goals can’t be blamed on goalkeeper Kevin Horgan. The ‘keeper had a difficult game in Oriel Park the week before, shipping much criticism, and he showed great fortitude in the match pulling off a number of high quality saves.
“Defensively as a team we weren't good enough from the first minute really. That's something we're not happy with because in the large majority of our games we've been good at getting pressure on the ball at the right moments but we didn't do that on Friday.
“When your pressure isn't good as a team you can get outfought all over the pitch because we were too disjointed and too open. That hasn't been us for large parts of the season but unfortunately it was here and we were punished.
“So it won't be just show up and get the three points (against Bray). It's going to be a tough game and we've got to make sure that we're a lot better than what we were on Friday night. It's a good chance to put Friday behind us by performing first of all and then coming away with the three points.
“Dan Carr was excellent on Friday. He looked dangerous all night, he held the ball and he was strong. He led the line really well and then the goal was a great finish from him. It was unfortunate that he had to come off with the injury. We'll have to wait and see how he is in the morning."
Referee: Yet to be confirmed
Bray Wanderers are the only club in the ten team Premier Division without a shirt sponsor. According to UEFA’s annual report published in January, that is the case with 12% of European top flight clubs. Having no sponsor is most common in Greece where seven of the 16 SuperLeague clubs do not have a shirt sponsor.
Shamrock Rovers inflicted Bray’s joint worst ever league defeat five years ago this week. Rovers beat Bray 7-0 at Tallaght Stadium with Ronan Finn scoring two of those goals. Dundalk also beat Bray by a seven goal margin winning 8-1 in Oriel Park in May 2015.
Bray Wanderers have won the FAI cup on two occasions, both since Rovers won their 24th and last FAI Cup. The Seagulls lifted the trophy in 1990 and 1999, whereas green and white ribbons haven’t been on the trophy for the Hoops since 1987.
Bray 11/2; Draw 3/1; Shamrock Rovers 4/9.
Bray Wanderers 0 – 2 Shamrock Rovers
Injured: Trevor Clarke
Doubtful: Dan Carr, Sean Kavanagh