Ten-man Dundalk held Bray Wanderers to a draw in a tight encounter at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday afternoon. The Lilywhites had gone ahead through Declan O'Brien's clever finish just before half-time but the Seagulls levelled from the penalty spot through Jake Kelly shortly after. Simon Kelly was sent off late on for the visitors.
Bray had the first chance after six minutes through Gary McCabe. John Flood pounced on Liam Burns’ poor clearance and passed the ball out to the right for the unmarked McCabe. He advanced on goal and fired from 20 yards out but his shot dragged across the face of goal and went wide.
On 11 minutes, McCabe’s cross-field ball was flicked on by Paul Byrne. The ball landed with Jake Kelly whose first time cross-shot was turned towards goal by Flood. His looping effort hit the crossbar and was cleared by Burns.
Dundalk’s first chance came in the 14th minute. Burns’ long ball up-field found Chris Turner who ran in behind the Bray defence before pulling the ball back for Darren Mansaram. Mansaram controlled and shot from twelve yards but his effort was blocked by Chris Deans.
On 17 minutes, Harpal Singh picked up the ball on the left and ran all the way into the Bray box. After reaching the goal-line he crossed to the far post where Declan O’Brien met the cross, only to head the ball against the post.
Mansaram forced O’Connor into a smart save on 37 minutes. George O’Callaghan’s shot hit Mansaram and he collected the ball before shooting at goal from the edge of the box. O’Connor dived down to his left to push the ball away.
On 40 minutes, Dane Massey passed to Jake Kelly down the left-hand side of the Dundalk box. After beating a defender, he crossed into the centre for Byrne. His header struck the crossbar and the rebound was cleared by Dave Rodgers.
The Lilywhites took the lead a minute later. O’Callaghan collected the ball down the right hand side and crossed low into the box. Declan O’Brien ran across his marker and back-heeled the ball past O’Connor into the far corner.
Bray equalised in stoppage time when they were awarded a penalty. Simon Kelly was adjudged to have fouled Jake Kelly on the edge of the Dundalk box. The Bray winger took the penalty - Bray's fourth in three home games - himself and coolly placed it in the right-hand corner, sending Ryan Coulter the wrong way.
The second half was not so lively with the first chance coming on the hour mark. Singh's throw-in down the left-hand side landed with Mansaram who played it back to Singh. The former Leeds United winger controlled before crossing into the near post where O'Brien met the ball with a diving header, but his effort went wide of the near post.
With 67 minutes gone, Wanderers hit the woodwork once again. This time, Chris Shields' shot from 25-yards cracked off the crossbar with Coulter stranded. The ball fell to sub Gareth Coughlan but his effort from 15-yards was comfortably saved by the ex-Bray keeper.
With 81 minutes gone, a one-two between Byrne and sub John Mulroy saw Byrne with the ball in a one-on-one with Coulter. Byrne's strike from tern yards beat Coulter but once more the post rescued Dundalk.
Bray went close twice more in stoppage time. Three minutes into time added on, Byrne's pass to Mulroy saw the forward shoot from the edge of the box and force Coulter to touch the ball around the post. A minute later, a Massey corner from the right was headed goalward by Derek Foran at the far post only to be caught on the line by Coulter.
It ended 1-1 and the hosts will certainly feel hard done by for not getting all three points. For Dundalk, it was their first draw of the season and one they are no doubt content with, considering that it could have been worse.
Bray Wanderers: Chris O'Connor; Dave Webster, Derek Foran, Chris Deans, Dane Massey; Gary McCabe, Stephen Brennan, Chris Shields, Jake Kelly (Gareth Coughlan 56); John Flood (John Mulroy 56), Paul Byrne.
Subs not used: Brian Kane (gk), Daire Doyle, David O'Neill.
Bookings: Shields (86).
Dundalk: Ryan Coulter; Shaun Kelly (Thomas Heary 73), Simon Kelly, Liam Burns, Dave Rodgers; Chris Turner, Michael Daly, George O‘Callaghan, Harpal Singh; Darren Mansaram, Declan O'Brien (Sean Mackle 83).
Subs not used: Mark Griffin, Dwight Barnett.
Booked: O‘Brien (42), Simon Kelly (45+1).
Sent off: Simon Kelly (84).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer.
Attendance: 1,200 (estimate).
Extratime.ie man of the match: Ryan Coulter (Dundalk) - his saves, with the help of the woodwork, kept Dundalk in the game.