With just three Premier Division games remaining, Bray Wanderers face a do-or-die couple of weeks as relegation to the second-tier becomes an ever-increasing possibility. It’s now or never for the Seagulls, starting with Sunday’s clash with mid-table Limerick FC at the Carlisle Grounds.
Pat Devlin’s side have the advantage of being safe in the knowledge that just their third home victory or indeed a point would lift them off the foot of the table and enhance their chances of securing a play-off lifeline.
Their form certainly represents that of a relegation candidate, having picked up just four points from their last fourteen league outings including a winless run which stretches back till the first week in June. The warning lights are on overdrive by the seaside as their Premier Division status is seemingly slipping away.
The hosts have no injury concerns ahead of the game with Director of Football Devlin adding four players to his matchday squad from the one that lost comfortably to Shamrock Rovers last time out. Ian Cowser, Peter Thomas, Dwayne Wilson and Eoin Hyland have all been drafted in for what is a must-win clash with the club reducing ticket prices in an attempt to rally support.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, Devlin conceded it won’t be easy for his confidence-drained side but knows the importance if they are to survive the drop.
“Limerick will provide tough opposition and it won’t be easy. Our last game against them was a really interesting one. They are having a great season and I’d love to swap places with them at the moment.” he joked.
Recent history between the sides doesn’t favour the hosts either; Bray have recorded just a draw in their last five outings against their Munster opposition while they have been trailing at half-time in each of their last four outings against Limerick.
In complete contrast, Limerick have enjoyed an excellent campaign on their return to the top-flight and will look to extend their four-match unbeaten run when they face the league’s basement club.
Stuart Taylor’s side have nothing more than pride to play for after three consecutive victories ensured they wouldn’t be dragged into a relegation tussle.
The Super Blues have overcome the challenge of Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk and Bohemains in the last three weeks, and by the time they kick-off at the Carlisle Grounds, there will have been a near-13 day break for the Shannonsiders.
However, confidence will inevitably be high inside the visitors’ dressing room as they aim to finish above their Munster rivals Cork, who are four points ahead, in the standings. Manager Stuart Taylor has warned his side against complacency in their final few fixtures, during which they face the bottom two in the space of a couple of days.
“They’ve got a different motivation than ourselves and the rest of the league,” Taylor said.
“The motivation for ourselves is to go and finish above Cork in sixth place. That aim hasn’t changed for quite a while. We said after the Cork game (on 2 August) that we want to finish above them and in sixth.
“We’re still exactly in that same position mentally and we’ll go into the game motivated and looking forward to it.
“It’s something I said at the start of the season. No matter who we’re playing against – and that includes St. Pat’s at the top of the league and Shelbourne and Bray at the bottom – we’ve gone into every single game with the intention of winning it.
Limerick remain without winger Shane Tracy (knee) and midfielder Stephen McGann (foot), while captain Pat Purcell (ankle) is also out. Midfielder Stephen Bradley serves a one-match suspension after accumulating eight yellow cards, while Brian O’Callaghan returns from a groin injury.
Referee: Graham Kelly
Limerick are unbeaten in the last six meetings between the sides in all competitions.
In the last meeting between the sides at the Carlisle Grounds, Limerick were comfortable winners on a 4-0 scoreline.
Bray Wanderers have failed to win their last 14 matches in the Airtricity League.
Limerick have scored at least 3 goals in their last 5 matches against Bray Wanderers in all competitions.
Bray Wanderers 2/1 Draw 12/5 Limerick 6/5
Bray Wanderers 1-3 Limerick
Bray Wanderers Injury News: None.
Bray Wanderers Suspension News: None.
Limerick Injury News: Shane Tracy (knee), Stephen McGann (foot), Pat Purcell (ankle), Shane Costelloe (ankle)
Limerick Suspension News: Stephen Bradley