Date: 7:45 p.m. Nov. 10, 2009
Venue: United Park
Drogheda began the game in dramatic fashion, almost taking the lead after a mere 30 seconds. Robbie Martin being played through but the striker’s first touch was too firm and the ball went just far enough for O’Connor to come sliding out and claim possession.
The visitors immediately went downfield and almost took the lead themselves; John Mulroy’s long range effort flew over the bar.
Robbie Martin, making his first start in quite some time, had a moment of madness when from a Brendan McGill cross from the right the striker jumped and punched the ball away from the goal and was lucky to escape any punishment from the referee.
Early pressure was all coming from the home side who were unfortunate not to take the lead when a quick throw found Robbie Martin in space and his low diagonal shot was forced round the post by O’Connor. From the resulting corner Bray steamed down the pitch and a long clearance found its way to Ian Tuohy via a lucky deflection and a Ross Gaynor slip, yet the striker took too much time and was forced wide by an advancing Paul Skinner and his shot from an acute angle was cleared off the line by the retreating Alan McNally.
Bray once again split the stagnant Drogheda defence on 28 minutes when Coughlan slipped a ball through to Mulroy who beat the offside trap but drifted too wide to get a shot off and opted to cross the ball in front of goal but McNally got back to clear the danger once again.
Bray came to prominence toward the end of the half, however they were rocked by the loss of Chris Shields who went off after suffering a cut on his forehead.
The second half only came to life on the hour mark when on the edge of the Bray area John Mulroy dragged down Brian King and from the subsequent free kick James Chambers stepped up to whip the ball round the wall and past the diving O’Connor to send the home crowd into rapturous celebration.
The home side sensed a second goal, and with recent performances a 1-0 lead has never been secure at United Park, so Chambers and McGill pressed down the right forcing cross after cross which O’Connor dealt with.
Bray almost equalised on 70 minutes, both Alan McNally and Kenna managed to disposes Gareth Coughlan and rather than hack the ball clear Robbie Clarke ran the ball out but inadvertently gave possession to Tuohy whose first touch went too far into the box and Skinner managed to gather.
The Claret and Blue club secured their win with 10 minutes remaining, a Ross Gaynor shot rebounded off the post to Brian King who smashed home from eight yards out.
Further woe was heaped on Eddie Gormley’s side as Mulroy was sent off with eight minutes remaining, the midfielder was carded again and following his earlier yellow was left with no choice but to leave the field of play.
The final whistle was greeted with celebrations akin to Drogheda winning the league as fans invaded the pitch to embrace the players and Alan Mathews in what is a night for celebration in the North East.
Extratime Man Of The Match: Both James Chambers and Chris O’Connor deserve this accolade due to their performances on the field. If it were not for O’Connor’s reactions and bravery Bray may have been well beaten. It’s hard not to see a keeper of his calibre outside the Premier Division. Also Chambers free kick and setup play was excellent.
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; James Chambers, Alan McNally, Conor Kenna, Robbie Clarke; Brendan McGill, Paul Crowley, Eric McGill, Brian King; Robbie Martin (Guy Bates 60), Ross Gaynor.
Booked: E McGill (46).
Bray Wanderers: Chris O'Connor; Derek Pender, Dave Mulcahy, Chris Deans, Gary Cronin; Ian Tuohy (Gary McCabe 73), Chris Shields (Stephen Brennan 42), Daire Doyle, Gareth Coughlan, John Mulroy, John Flood (Jake Kelly 69).
Booked: Mulroy (59), Pender (90), McCabe (90).
Sent off: Mulroy (83).
Referee: Damien Hancock (Dublin).