Gerard Grimes reports from United Park
A last-minute header from Luke McNally gave Drogheda United all three points as they beat Bray Wanderers 1-0 at United Park on Friday evening.
Drogheda created the first chance of the game through a well worked move that saw Heeney, Brennan, Clarke and Lyons link up.
Neat passing saw the ball played to the feet of Lyons, who beat a defender and shot, only for Sava to save on to the bar. However, the referee awarded a goal kick to the visitors.
The first effort for the visitors saw advantage played after Dean O’Halloran was fouled on the edge of the box.
That saw the ball drop for Joe Doyle, one-on-one with Gratzer but the Drogheda keeper managed to make the save with his legs.
Sava was called in to action again on 22 minutes as James Clarke made a break in the middle and played in Stephen Meaney on the right.
Meaney looked to shoot across goal but Sava was equal to it, palming the ball out as far as Clarke but his diving header was straight at Sava.
In a half where both sides created chances, it was Bray who went close next as Philip Gannon found space to shoot from the edge of the box but curled his effort.
Dylan McGlade, who scored a hat-trick in Bray’s 3-1 win over Drogheda earlier in the season, was a constant threat, particularly in the first half.
He created three chances in five minutes for the Seagulls, getting in behind the Drogheda defence on the left wing. His first cut back was cut out by Kane before Dylan Barnett shot wide of the target.
A minute later, he found Derek Daly in the box but Drogheda captain Jake Hyland had got back to make the block and clear.
McGlade could and perhaps should have broke the deadlock on 37 minutes as he beat James Brown and squeezed his way past two other Drogheda players before hitting the outside of the post from inside the six-yard box.
Drogheda started the second half the better side with Jake Hyland immediately forcing Sava into a save, low to his left.
The home side should have been ahead two minutes later as Luke Gallagher’s ball forward was controlled in the box by Lyons and teed up on a plate for James Clarke but the teenager couldn’t keep the strike down and fired over the bar.
Clarke again went close five minutes later after Kane intercepted a Bray pass on halfway and broke down the left wing. He found Clarke on the edge of the box and his strike curled wide of the far post.
Drogheda had two further chances in quick succession before the hour mark as Meaney, with his back to goal, headed over the bar.
Meaney then cut out Sava’s pass, found Lyons who flicked the ball to Brennan but he saw his strike from the edge of the box blocked.
Bray had a chance to grab the winner with ten minutes to play as McGlade raced in behind the Drogheda defence but one-on-one with Gratzer, failed to hit the target.
Derek Daly had Bray’s last chance with three minutes to play but his shot was struck wide of Gratzer’s goal.
It would be Drogheda who found the later winner as Bray half cleared both an Eoin McPhillips corner and then a second cross from the U19 player from the right.
The ball came back to Brennan who lofted a high ball into the box where Luke McNally rose highest to head the ball over Sava and into the bottom corner to claim all three points for the Boynesiders.
Drogheda United: Luca Gratzer; James Brown, Luke McNally, Luke Gallagher, Conor Kane; Luke Heeney (Mark Doyle 59’), Jake Hyland (C), Sean Brennan; Stephen Meaney (Eoin McPhillips 87’), James Clarke (Cian Kavanagh 91’), Chris Lyons.
Subs not used: Paul Skinner (GK), Kevin Farragher, Jordan Adeyemo.
Booked: Sean Brennan (62’).
Bray Wanderers: Gabriel Sava; Killian Cantwell, Darragh Gibbons, Sean Heaney, Dylan Barnett (Richie Purdy 73’); Paul Keegan (C), Philip Gannon (Luka Lovic 89’), Derek Daly; Dean O’Halloran, Dylan McGlade, Joe Doyle.
Subs not used: Adam Hayden (GK), Luke Nolan, Jamie Crilly, Cian Maher, Brandon McCann.
Referee: David Keeler.
Attendance: 850 (est).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Luke McNally (Drogheda United).