Andrew Dempsey reports from Tolka Park
Champions elect Shelbourne and playoff contenders Bray Wanderers played out an entertaining scoreless draw on a night of tension at Tolka Park
Both defences reigned supreme with both attacks struggling to break down their opposite number. The result means that the Seagulls have it all to do to reach the First Division playoffs.
A carnival, yet nerve-shredding atmosphere descended on the historic Tolka Park venue with both sides making changes from their most recent outings against Longford Town and Cobh Ramblers respectively.
Sean Quinn replaced the suspended Oscar Brennan for the Reds, while Gary Cronin was forced into an unusual change as regular ‘keeper Gabriel Sava sat on the bench in place of Adam Hayden. Luka Lovic also replaced the suspended Paul Keegan.
Ian Morris’ troops, carrying the weight of an expectant home crowd on their shoulders, started brightly and had the first chance of the game through forward Ciaran Kilduff.
The former Dundalk hitman saw his header just loop over the goal after a cross from the left by winger Karl Moore.
The hosts continued to press and probe, going close at the back post through Moore, but he was unable to turn home at the back post.
The Reds proved a real threat on the right hand side through Denzil Fernandes but Farrell was prevented from turning his effort home with a tame effort that brushed off his foot.
The Seagulls soon awoke from their early stage slumber as they grew in influence as the half progressed.
However, the hosts still created chances, with Ryan Brennan having a rather tame volley on goal on the edge of the penalty are, but the Bray back-up ‘keeper Hayden saved well under a hoard of pressure.
Derek Daly’s free-kick was the only real moment of not to talk about as the half drew to a close, with Shels keeper Colin McCabe saving well.
With so much at stake for both sides, it was the visitors who came out of the traps quickest, with Dylan McGlade proving a real menace on the counter-attack.
The former Longford Town winger soon went close on the break, but he was unable to produce a major chance of note – with the ball getting stuck between his feet at the wrong moment.
Moore soon had a wayward drive on the half-volley that went well over the bar, which raised groans of the 1,655 crowd in attendance at Tolka Park.
The Seagulls continued to press in the second half and went close through Luka Lovic, albeit from long range with McCabe saving well to his right.
Shamrock Rovers loanee Dean Williams had a well-struck effort on goal that went just wide, wan effort that maybe appeared closer than once thought as nerves reached fever pitch at the Richmond Road venue.
Despite struggling to get into the game, the Reds fashioned an opening through the flagging Fernandes, with his curling effort well-saved by Hayden in the Seagulls goal.
With seconds remaining on the clock, Shelbourne had a major chance to snatch all three points, but Greg Moorehouse was unable to put his shot in the back of the net, much to the frustration of the home support.
In truth, a draw was probably a fair result on reflection, a result which has done both sides no real favours in their respective pushes for promotion, with the Reds clash against Drogheda on Friday week becoming more and more significant.
Shelbourne: Colin McCabe; Luke Byrne, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Aidan Friel, Derek Prendergast; Ryan Brennan, Shane Farrell, Denzil Fernandes (Greg Moorehouse, 85), Karl Moore, Sean Quinn (Darragh Noone, 73); Ciarán Kilduff.
Subs not used: Conan Byrne, Dean Delany, Daniel McKenna, Alex O'Hanlon, Dayle Rooney.
Booked: Ryan Brennan (68), Darragh Noone (80)
Bray Wanderers: Adam Hayden; Hugh Douglas, Kilian Cantwell; Dylan McGlade, Brandon McCann (Jake Ellis, 86), John Martin, Luka Lovic, Sean Heaney, Derek Daly; Dean Williams, Joe Doyle (Phillip Gannon, 71).
Subs not used: Dylan Thornton, Gabriel Sava, Luke Nolan, Cian Maher, Darragh Gibbons.
Booked: Joe Doyle (32)
Referee: Alan Patchell
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Shane Farrell (Shelbourne).