Bray Wanderers won their first game in five in the Premier League against UCD at the Belfield Bowl on Friday night. Goals from Sean Houston and Chris Shields helped to seal a narrow victory against the Students.
Despite their poor recent run of form, Bray settled into the game much quicker than the home side. It only took them two minutes to take the lead. The opening goal came about after Gary Dempsey's precise free kick from the right was headed home from six yards out by defender Sean Houston.
UCD appeared to be shellshocked by the early concession of that goal. Indeed it was Bray who controlled much of the first half. Both Gary Dempsey and Daire Doyle enjoyed plenty of possession and looked comfortable on the ball in midfield.
The visitors did not create many chances in the first 45 minutes. More importantly though they did take advantage of their second major opportunity on the 24th minute. Gary Dempsey's corner was cleared to the returning Jake Kelly. Kelly's speculative shot was flicked home into the corner of the net from six yards out by Chris Shields, who had his back to goal.
The closest that UCD came to scoring in the first half was in the 36th minute. Sean Harding picked out Dean Marshall for UCD. Marshall's cross was perfect but Samir Belhout somehow failed to connect with the header.
However UCD began the second half much better, with Paul Corry in particular taking a foothold of the game in midfield. They got back into the game in the 56th minute. Their goal came about after Paul O'Connor's wonderful in swinging free kick from the right was headed home by captain Mick Leahy.
Bray nearly scored straight after UCD did. Dan McGuinness, who was later substituted, had a shot from the edge of the area but it went just wide.
Martin Russell's team should have equalised in the 60th minute. Graham Rusk played in Smair Belhout. Belhout was one on one with Matt Gregg. However Belhout's tame effort was easily saved by the Bray netminder.
Chances were few and far between thereafter. The closest either side came to scoring was in the 93rd minute. Bray substitute John Mulroy, who had earlier failed to connect with a Gary Dempsey corner, tried an audacious chip from just outside the area which was just too high.
Stand in manager Keith Long should be happy that he guided Bray to back to winning ways, while Martin Russell will be left to rue his side's poor start to the game.
UCD: Ger Barron; Sean Harding, Ciaran Nangle, David O'Connor, Michael Leahy (captain); Paul Corry, Dean Marshall (Stephen Doyle 82), Paul O'Conor, Robbie Benson (Samir Belhout 23), Darren Meenan; Graham Rusk.
Subs Not Used: Tomas Boyle, Daniel Ledwith, Sean Russell, Tyrone McNelis, Mark McGinley.
Bookings: Belhout (92).
Bray Wanderers: Matt Gregg; Shane O'Connor, Sean Houston, Adam Mitchell, Derek Prendergast; Gary Dempsey (captain), Dan McGuinness (John Mulroy 63), Daire Doyle, Chris Shields, Jake Kelly (Dean Zambra 58); Conor Murphy (Shane O'Neill 80).
Subs Not Used: Conor Butler, David Webster, Graham Kelly, Brian Kane.
Bookings: Prendergast (61).
Referee: Padraig Sutton.
Extratime.ie Man of the match: Gary Dempsey (Bray Wanderers)