Bray Wanderers and Shamrock Rovers shared the points in an entertaining match at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night.
Both sides can be happy with a draw after a competitive game which saw both sides create chances, although Bray have goalkeeper Chris O'Connor to thank for keeping Rovers at bay on several occasions.
Bray created the first opening through Patrick Kavanagh on six minutes. After Dave Mulcahy hooked the ball over his shoulder, Kavanagh picked the ball up inside the Rovers half and ran towards goal. After cutting inside, he lost his balance and his final shot from eight yards was easily saved by Barry Murphy.
In the 14th minute it was Rovers' turn to test their opponents. Stephen Bradley’s corner from the left was knocked down by Aidan Price to Ollie Cahill who volleyed the ball at goal from 25-yards. His left-foot drive was palmed over by the out-stretched O’Connor to keep the scores level.
The Seagulls had their next chance in the 23rd minute. Kavanagh received the ball in the middle of the park and after a nice turn he played a lovely through ball for Paul Byrne up front. Byrne controlled and ran at goal but his shot from the inside left of the box was blocked by Hoops captain Price.
On 33 minutes, it was Stephen Rice’s chance to have a go. After good build up down the right involving Madden, Shane Robinson and Cahill, the ball fell to Rice thirty yards from goal. He took a touch before firing at goal. However, his effort had no power and failed to trouble O’Connor.
The best chance of the game came in the final minute for Bray. Dane Massey’s throw-in from the left was flicked on by Daire Doyle. The ball dropped in the Rovers area and Doyle was the first to get to it. He slid in to lift the ball over Barry Murphy. The ball sailed across Murphy's goal before striking the foot of the far post. Ian Bermingham then ran in and cleared for the Hoops.
Rovers started the second half the brighter and their first opening came two minutes after the restart. After Kavanagh fouled Rice, Cahill’s quick thinking saw the ball played to the unmarked Dessie Baker inside the box. Baker controlled but his shot from 12-yards went high and wide of the Bray goal.
In the 56th minute, Wanderers almost took the lead through Derek Foran. Dane Massey's corner went straight to the far post where the unmarked Foran headed the ball at goal from eight yards. His low header was cleared off the line by a Rovers defender.
Eight minutes later, there was another chance for the visitors. Stephen Rice played a cross-field ball which found Robinson 35-yards from goal. He controlled and advanced before trying to lob O'Connor with a side-footed effort. O'Connor saved the ball and gathered it at the second attempt.
The game ended 0-0 and both sides can be happy with a point for their efforts. Bray's next match is a trip to early leaders Galway United while the next match for the Hoops will be an historic one as they host Sligo Rovers in the first ever match at Tallaght Stadium.
Bray Wanderers: Chris O'Connor; Derek Pender, Derek Foran (Dave Webster 90), Chris Deans, Dane Massey; Paddy Kavanagh, Daire Doyle, Dave Mulcahy, Gary McCabe (John Mulroy 79), Gareth Coughlan; Paul Byrne (Darren Forsyth 86).
Subs not used: Brian Kane (gk), Robbie Shields.
Bookings: Pender (80).
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Aidan Price, Simon Webb, Ian Bermingham; Ollie Cahill, Shane Robinson, Stephen Bradley (Séan O’Connor 72), Stephen Rice; Dessie Baker (Eoin Doyle 84), Gary Twigg (Tadhg Purcell 76).
Subs not used: Robert Duggan, Corie Treacy.
Bookings: Cahill (44), Rice (70).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer (Cork).
Attendance: 2,500 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Chris O'Connor (Bray Wanderers) - he made of plenty of saves to keep Bray in it.