Bottom of the table Bray Wanderers take on the challenge of European hopefuls St. Patrick’s Athletic in a must win match in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Seagulls who firmly rooted to the bottom simply must pick up a home win to give their fading hopes of survival a much needed boost. Bray are still licking their wounds after last Friday night’s 5-0 thrashing at the hands of an in-form Dundalk who put in a five star display.
The Lilywhites raced into a 2-0 lead with goals from Pat Hoban and Dylan Connolly in the first 15 minutes that did the damage which The Seagulls never recovered from while Jamie McGrath inflicted further misery making it 3-0 after 39 minutes. A second from Pat Hoban and a fifth from Marco Tagbajumi put the final nail in Bray’s coffin.
That was the Seagulls third defeat on the trot and without scoring a goal which is a problem area that needs addressing sooner rather than later if they are to have any chance of getting the wins required to stay up. Bray have shown some signs of improvement particularly at home where they have picked up wins over Shamrock Rovers (1-0) and Derry City (2-1). They have picked up 7 points from their last ten league games having only managed to earn a solitary point in their first 10 league matches.
Bray Wanderers caretaker boss Graham Kelly is expecting a difficult game from St. Pat’s telling www.braywanderersfc.ie, “We look forward to welcoming St Pats to the Carlisle grounds tomorrow evening for what no doubt will be another tough game. Having played St Pat’s 3 times already this season (2 League, 1 Cup) we know they are a really good team that keep the ball really well. Liam has a good blend of youth and experience to choose from and has quality players all over the pitch. We have looked back on the DVD of their game with Cork last weekend and although the game finished 3-1 to Cork it was a much closer game than the scoreline suggests.”
Kelly feels his side will go into the game feeling confident of getting a positive result saying to www.braywanderersfc.ie, “From our own point of view we approach tomorrow night’s game with a positive attitude, training has been good this week and our recent home form has shown signs of improvement with the 2-1 win over Derry and the 2-2 draw with Waterford, Tomorrow night’s game will be our 6th game in 21 days which is a big ask for our small and very young squad but we again go into the game looking for another good performance and hopefully we get a positive result and some much needed points.”
Bray Wanderers are currently in 10th place in the league on 8 points from their 20 league matches with 2 wins, 2 draws and 14 defeats.
The Seagulls have somewhat of an injury crisis at the moment with Hugh Douglas, Andy McGovern and John Sullivan out with long-term injuries while Aaron Greene, Rhys Gorman and Darragh Noone are hopeful of a return to action following the mid-season break. Dylan Hayes joins the ever increasing cast in the treatment room having sustained a hamstring tear in the defeat to Dundalk while Aaron Dillon who has been out with a back injury has gone back to Blackburn Rovers. Bray will also be without the services of suspended Ronan Coughlan who picked up his 5th yellow card of the season last week.
ST. PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
St. Patrick’s Athletic aim to keep alive their ambitions of playing European football next season when they make the relatively short journey to Wicklow. St. Pat’s will be desperate to stop the rot setting in and avoid a 3rd straight league defeat.
Last Friday night saw the Saints succumb to a 3-1 defeat to the champions Cork City at Richmond Park. However, it was a much closer game than the scoreline suggests. The Rebel Army struck immediately when they awarded a penalty after just 13 seconds which was converted by Kieran Sadlier. Despite the early setback St. Pat’s battled back and deservedly grabbed an equaliser when Conan Byrne struck just after the hour mark. Ten minutes later Cork regained the lead through Jimmy Keohane and it was nip and tuck until Sadlier settled it with his second of the night deep into injury time.
This was St. Patrick’s Athletics’ second consecutive loss in the league having been beaten 3-0 away to Shamrock Rovers the previous week. The Inchicore side had been in impressive form before that having just lost one of their last 8 league matches with 5 wins and 2 draws in that run which catapulted them into contention for a Europa League spot for next season.
Manager Liam Buckley felt his side put in a good performance and could have got something out of the game against Cork telling www.stpatsfc.com, “Last week was very tough for us. The lads had put in a huge effort over a number of weeks and unfortunately we went down in both the Cork and Rovers games. That said we gave it everything against Cork and responded well to going down to a very early goal. We had a chance or two to go in front but the chances just didn't go in and then we conceded.”
Buckley is hoping the hard work on the training ground will pay dividends but is expecting a tough encounter from Bray.
“All this week we've just been concentrating on recharging the batteries, working on a few little things and encouraging the players to get back to some of the play we saw in recent weeks. Bray will be tough opponents and have improved in recent weeks under the guidance of Graham Kelly and Martin Russell so we know it will be a really tough game out in the Carlisle Grounds.”
The Saints are currently in 5th place in the league on 30 points from their 20 league matches with 9 wins, 3 draws and 8 defeats.
Pat’s boss Buckley has more or less a fully fit squad to select from but will be without the injured Owen Garvan whilst midfielder Jamie Lennon who is serving a one match suspension this week.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
Bray Wanderers and St. Patrick’s Athletic have already met on 3 occasions this season with St. Pat’s winning all three matches 2-1 in the opening fixture at the Carlisle Grounds and a 5-0 win at Richmond Park in the league while The Saints dumped the Seagulls out of the 4th Round of the Leinster Senior Cup with a 3-1 win again in Bray.
Bray and Pat’s have met each other 65 times in all competitions since 1996 with The Saints having dominated the fixture with 40 wins to The Seagulls 14 while there have been 11 draws.
Bray Wanderers scored 64 goals in total averaging just under a goal per game while St. Patrick’s Athletic doubled that with 128 goals averaging 1.97 per game.
Bray Wanderers 13/2 Draw 7/2 St. Patrick’s Athletic 4/11
Bray Wanderers 1-3 St. Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Hugh Douglas, Andy McGovern, John Sullivan, Aaron Green, Rhys Gorman, Darragh Noone, Dylan Hayes
Suspended: Ronan Coughlan
St. Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Owen Garvan
Suspended: Jamie Lennon