Derry City came away with all three points, but were made to work hard for them by Bray Wanderers, on a gusty Friday night in Wicklow. A second half winner by James McClean gave the Candystripes their second win of the season & keeps them in touch with the early league leaders.
In a game which took a long time to settle, both sides struggled early on to dominate possession, the strong wind definitely playing a part. Conditions a-side, it was clear that Bray were looking to knock early, long balls over the top for their quick forwards to latch onto. Derry were looking to play a better brand of football, but were short of ideas. It was no surprise that the game's first goal came from a set piece. A quick free kick on 21 minutes by Kevin Deery gave Derry's Daniel Lafferty the opportunity to score with a free header at the back post. The Bray defending was poor, and was an easy finish for the full back.
Bray hit back before half-time, their football had improved and they had started to create some half chances. Firstly some good work from Shane O'Neill on the Bray right-hand-side almost created a goal for Wanderers. He squared the ball across the six-yard box, Jake Kelly came close, but couldn't quite stretch his toe out far enough to apply the finish. However, Kelly did find the net with his next chance. Another quick free kick, this time taken by Bray captain Gary Dempsey was met by Dane Massey at the back post, Massey's scuffed shot fell to Jake Kelly, who put the ball in the net from five yards.
With the scores tied at the beginning of the second half, it was Bray who applied the early pressure. They were now playing with the wind at their backs, and had Derry pinned back for the opening minutes. Derry City opting to play on the counter-attack. They did however carve the first real chance of the second half on 50 minutes, some excellent play by David McDaid, who created some space before rolling the ball to the overlapping Eddie McCallion. The full-back delivered an excellent ball into the box from the right. Eamon Zayed was on the end of the cross, the forward looked to have the simple task of putting the ball past the Bray goalkeeper, but the Libyan international was foiled by a brilliant last-ditch challenge from Wanderer's impressive central defender, Adam Mitchell.
Bray continued as the better side as the half progressed, they missed a brilliant chance to take the lead when Danny O'Connor crossed from the right, the ball was met two yards out with a free-header for Conor Murphy, but the striker somehow miss-cued and headed wide. Derry changed things around a little after that. David McDaid was replaced by winger Stephen McLaughlin on 57 minutes, moving to a 4-3-3 system, and soon Bray were punished for their lack of cutting-edge. With 75 minutes on the watch, substitute McLaughlin crossed a ball from the right, which James McClean attacked superbly with his head and dispatched past Bray keeper Matt Gregg. Derry managed to hold out and claim the win, despite some late pressure from Bray.
Bray Wanderers Director of Football, Pat Devlin stated before the match, that his side would have to work very hard to get anything from this game. His Bray side certainly did that, and were it not for some poor finishing might have got something for their efforts. In the end it was Derry who took the spoils, they will be delighted with all three points away from home.
Bray Wanderers: Matt Gregg; Dean Zambra, Dane Massey, Adam Mitchell, Derek Prendergast; Gary Dempsey, Shane O'Neill, Danny O'Connor, Jake Kelly (Graham Kelly, 87); Conor Murphy (Dan McGuinness, 87), John Mulroy (Sean Houston, 83).
Subs not used: Nicky Byrne, Shane O'Connor, Stephen Last, Darren Quigley.
Derry City: Gerald Doherty; Eddie McCallion, Steward Greacen, Shane McEleney, Daniel Lafferty; Kevin Deery (Thomas McBride, 87), James McClean, Gareth McGlynn, Ruaidhri Higgins; David McDaid (Stephen McLaughlin, 58), Eamon Zayed.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Emmet Friars, Ruairi Harkin, Ryan McBride, Stephen Parkhouse.
Bookings: Kevin Deery (20).
Referee: Mr Graham Kelly.
Attendance: 500 (estimate).
extratime.ie Man of the Match: James McClean (Derry City).