Date: 7:45 p.m. March 5, 2010
Venue: Carlisle Grounds
Scored: 90'- Garry Breen 90'
Bray had started the game brightly, and were awarded a penalty with two minutes gone when Dundalk centre-half Liam Burns clipped the heels of young Bray striker Shane O'Neill as he bore down on goal. The Seagulls actually had the ball in the net from this move, but Dave McKeon had pointed to the spot long before the shot was taken.
O'Neill stepped up to the take the subsequent kick, but his effort was brilliantly saved low to the right by Dundalk 'keeper Peter Cherrie to let the new-look Lilywhites off the hook. Had they conceded a goal here, it could have had a demoralising effect on Ian Foster's side, but instead they started to come into the game more, with Fahrudin Kudozovic, in particular, putting in a good shift alongside seasoned pro Neale Fenn in the Dundalk attack.
Try as they might though, they couldn't quite find the cutting edge to break down the Bray defence, and even allowing for the loss of Philip Knight after 13 minutes (to be replaced by Nicky Byrne), the Wicklow side failed to be deterred, as they looked calm and composed throughout the opening half. Bray would begin to create some chances themselves though, and defender Shane O'Connor went extremely close to finding the Dundalk net after 14 minutes, but his effort was cleared off the line.
Melligan and new Bray signing Ritchie Baker were both close to opening their side's accounts with chances in the 21st and 23rd minutes respectively, as both sides were looking to take the game to their opponents. However, after the promising opening 25 minutes, the game would become strangely flat for the rest of the half, with the only other real chance of note coming with five first half minutes left, when Fenn headed just over from a cross by the pacy Shaun Kelly.
This miss ensured that both sides went in scoreless at the break, and Eddie Gormley would probably be the happier of the two managers, even if he may have questioned one or two of the referee's decisions in the opening period. Foster would have expected more from his side though, and would have been somewhat alarmed by their apparent lack of creativity in the middle of the pitch.
The start of the second half continued in much the same vein as the end of the opening period, with plenty of endeavour from both sides, but very little in the way of clear-cut chances. The first real opening after the break came all of 17 minutes in when O'Neill, who caused the Dundalk backline all sorts of problems throughout the game, latched onto a pass by Chris Shields, with his effort being well-saved by Cherrie, who was proving to be a thorn in O'Neill's side.
As the game moved towards the final quarter, Foster opted to bring on the experienced Alan Cawley for the ineffective Tom Miller, and the Sligo man made an immediate impact be getting on the ball as much as possible and using it to good effect.
Dundalk had the vast majority of possession during the second half, but were finding it hard to break down a disciplined Bray rearguard. Bray were always going to be a danger on the break as well, and they were so close to going in front with just three minutes left when substitute John Mulroy found O'Neill, who had once again found space in the box, but his effort from ten yards dragged wide to the left of the post.
It seemed that would be the last meaningful piece of action of the match, but Breen had other ideas when he rose highest to nod low past Brian Kane in the Bray goal from a perfectly weighted Melligan delivery.
This was a crushing blow to Bray, and even though they introduced returning star David Tyrrell onto the left wing in an effort to breach The Lilywhites' backline, it was simply too little too late. Next up for Bray will be Galway United away on the 15th, before they welcome Sporting Fingal to the Carlisle Grounds two weeks from now.
As for Dundalk, they still have plenty of work to do, but will still be delighted to have gotten a win out a game that has historically been a tricky one for them, and will head into their derby match with Drogheda United fully confident that they can come away with a positive result.
Bray Wanderers: Brian Kane; Daire Doyle, Shane O'Connor, Philip Knight (Nicky Byrne '13), Dane Massey; Jake Kelly (David Tyrrell '90), James Kavanagh, Chris Shields, Ritchie Baker; Robbie Doyle (John Mulroy '87), Shane O'Neill.
Subs not used: Carl Donnelly, Dean Zambra.
Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; Liam Burns (Ciaran McGuigan '60), Garry Breen, Wayne Hatswell; Shaun Kelly, Tom Miller (Alan Cawley '66), J.J. Melligan, Ross Gaynor, Stephen Maher; Fahrudin Kudozovic, Neale Fenn.
Subs not used: Michael Synnott, Nathan Murphy, Matt Gregg.
Referee: Dave McKeon (Dublin).
Extratime.ie Man Of The Match: Shaun Kelly (Dundalk).