Andrew Dempsey reports from the Carlisle Grounds
There was scenes of jubilation at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday evening as Bray Wanderers somehow snatched all three points from the jaws of defeat against a crestfallen Longford Town.
Hugh Douglas’ last gasp header secured a much-needed three points for the Seagulls who fell one behind with just five to play thanks to a calamitous own goal from Luke Nolan.
Killian Cantwell equalised in the 88th minute with what looked like a point gained for Gary Cronin's side before the towering Douglas snatched all three points with moments to play.
The Seagulls started well at the Carlisle Grounds and took an early lead through Derek Daly who headed home after some inventive work from Joe Doyle.
Doyle got on the end of a stretched headed clearance from Conor Kenna which went backwards as the former Cabinteely striker found the head of Daly who headed past a helpless Lee Steacy who was rounded initially by Doyle.
However, Longford responded well and went close through Dean Byrne, but his shot was blocked at the back post by a Bray defender after both Sam Verdon and Peter Hopkins linked up well on the right flank.
With Longford continuing to press the Seagulls, Neale Fenn’s side were rewarded for their positive play as Byrne went on a mazy run to slot past Gabriel Sava in the Wanderers goal.
Dervin dispossessed Keegan on the right-hand side who found Hopkins who set free Byrne on the left. The dynamic forward eased past Luke Nolan to get into a dangerous position and fire past the former Dundalk ‘keeper with a composed finish.
Longford continued to press but were very fortunate to head in at the break level pegging as Phillip Gannon skied his guilt-edged chance over the bar with the goal at his mercy after Verdon’s weak header fell into his path.
Former Longford Town winger Dylan McGlade then forced a top class save from Steacy before Dean O’Halloran incredibly hit the bar from close-range seconds after via the trickery of Daly on the left.
Sava passed the ball to Keegan from a short kick out seconds into the second period, but he was dispossessed by Byrne who fed in Jamie Doyle. The ex-UCD hitman was then unable to profit thanks to a telling tackle from Sean Heaney.
Longford, while they pinned the Seagulls in impressively, failed to create an awful lot as it was Bray who tested Steacy in the Town goal.
Sub Richie Purdy and Doyle both shot wide as Gary Cronin’s provided a very real threat on the counter-attack.
However, Longford were rewarded for their relentless pressure as Nolan headed into his own net with just five to play after a long punt up field from defence after a calamitous mix-up between the former Bohemians U19 star and Sava.
With the three points looking all but guaranteed for De Town, a lapse in concentration was punished as Cantwell stabbed home at the back post following a flick on from the previously ineffectual Keegan to level proceedings late on.
There was further drama to come soon after as Douglas, only sprung from the bench minutes beforehand, headed home at the near post from an expert Dylan Barnett delivery.
It was a cruel blow to Longford who were full value for at least a point as Neale Fenn’s side fell a further three points behind top of the table Shelbourne who defeated Drogheda United while Bray Wanderers remain 6th, just a point behind Limerick in 4th.
Bray Wanderers: Gabriel Sava; Dylan Barnett, Kilian Cantwell, Sean Heaney, Luke Nolan (Hugh Douglas, 88); Derek Daly (Jake Ellis, 81), Philip Gannon (Richie Purdy, 68), Paul Keegan, Dylan McGlade, Dean O'Halloran; Joe Doyle.
Subs not used: Darragh Gibbons, Adam Hayden, Luka Lovic, Brandon McCann.
Booked: Dean O’Halloran (37), Hugh Douglas (90).
Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Anto Breslin, Shane Elworthy, Conor Kenna; Aodh Dervin, Jamie Doyle (Aaron Dobbs, 61), Peter Hopkins (Adam Evans, 79), Michael McDonnell, Dean Zambra; Dean Byrne, Sam Verdon (Joe Manley, 90+1).
Subs not used: Sean Brennan, Karl Chambers, Jamie Hollywood, Jack Menton.
Booked: Conor Kenna (90+2).
Referee: Sean Grant.
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Aodh Dervin (Longford Town).