Date: 7:30 p.m. July 2, 2016
Venue: Carlisle Grounds
Ref: Graham Kelly
Bray Wanderers got themsevles out of the Premier Division relegation zone with a 3-0 win over Wexford Youths at the Carlisle Grounds on Saturday night.
Goals from Dean Kelly, Andrew Lewis and Karl Moore secured the three points and eradicated the goal-difference advantage Youths had over the Seagulls in the process. As a result, Harry Kenny's men leapfrogged Shane Keegan's shellshocked side to get out of the relegation play-off place by virtue of one goal.
With table proppers Longford Town in action at home to Bohemians at the same time, it was a huge night for those down the bottom of the league, and Bray were ultimately the big winners. The Town lost 1-0 at the City Calling Stadium and Youths were put to the sword by the seaside to see Wanderers reach 12 points and pull four clear of bottom place.
Wexford started the game off with some early chances as Danny Furlong saw his half-volley inside the box saved down low by Peter Cherrie within the first five minutes.
Just a minute later, Jonny Bonner floated a corner to the back post where Paul Murphy headed back across goal. The attempted pass was cleared to the edge of the box where Eric Molloy took a touch but shot waywardly over.
Bray had a bit of a respite when Hugh Douglas put a header wide from a Karl Moore corner before Wexford saw another chance saved by Cherrie as Paul Murphy drilled a low free-kick into the Bray netminder’s grasp.
A free-kick for the Seagulls brought a half-chance as Ryan Delaney fouled Andrew Lewis on the right hand side. A low ball from Karl Moore just needed a touch goalwards to present an opportunity but no-one could apply it before it was cleared.
The game became end-to-end as Wexford would build an attack and Bray counter-attacked on the cleared ball. Another Bonner set-piece, this time a freekick, saw the midfielder go for a sneaky goal attempt but Cherrie was alert to make the save.
An imitation game then occurred as Dean Kelly tried his luck from a free-kick soon after. With it unclear whether the ball was going just wide or not, Graham Doyle did well to reach up and clutch the shot.
Wexford had a great chance just after the 20 minute mark when Murphy clipped the ball to Furlong on the edge of the Bray box. He headed it over the defence for Andy Mulligan to run onto but the wide man smacked his effort over the bar.
Icelandic long throws from Craig McCabe were an option for Wexford and a flick on from Gary Delaney from one presented a chance for forward Murphy. He climbed up to try head over Cherrie but the goalkeeper got his hands on the ball as the referee blew for a free-kick out.
Murphy had another opportunity soon after as he had a shot blocked in the box by a valiant Bray defence before Wanderers broke the deadlock.
The initial bit of play came from a distinct cut inside by Dylan Connolly, running along the edge of the box before finally passing to Moore. The former Bohemians winger cut back the ball to Ryan Brennan, whose low shot required a hand from Doyle to see it behind for a corner.
The corner from Brennan was initially cleared, but the ball was put back in and it bobbled around before Dean Kelly stepped up to hit one past Doyle, off the left post, and in.
The Seasiders grew in confidence with the goal and started getting in and around the Wexford box more. A Douglas header back across from Moore’s free-kick saw Doyle punch clear amongst a group of players.
However, there was one last chance for Wexford before the finish of the first-half as Murphy once more saw a shot blocked. Chris Kenny recycled the loose ball back to Murphy, with the frontman passing back for Bonner, only to see his own shot blocked by Douglas.
Yet it was Bray Wanderers who got the next goal of the game as Gareth McDonagh came forward from right-back and got down his wing. He crossed a delightful ball into the centre, where Andrew Lewis rose with no competition and planted one into the bottom of the net to give the Seagulls their second of the night.
The Youths thought they found themselves back in it but for a fantastic save from Peter Cherrie. Bonner picked up the ball on the right-hand side and whipped one into the area. Gary Delaney headed downwards but the Bray netminder somehow dived low and tipped the ball out of the net. From the resultant corner, Gary Delaney had another go but headed over.
Cherrie’s save was made even better minutes later as Bray extended their lead. Dylan Connolly set off down the left wing and crossed once at the byline. The cross looked overdone before Moore rushed in at the back post to drill a header at goal. Doyle managed to push the ball out but the linesman ruled that the shot had crossed the line.
At 3-0, the game was certainly over at this stage, but with goal-difference potentially such a huge factor in this basement battle, Wexford tried once again to find a way onto the scoreboard through a set-piece. Furlong’s shot from just on the edge of the area was saved by Cherrie. The cleared ball fell to Murphy, whose speculative volley from way out went over the bar.
Then it was Bray's turn to have another go from free-kicks themselves. First up saw Kelly have his deadball palmed out by Doyle before McDonagh managed to head across the goal when it seemed easier to put in.
Ryan Brennan then had a free-kick for a foul soon after McDonagh’s header. The delivery was cleared to Moore, who attempted a shot from outside the box that might have been tipped over by Doyle, although the referee saw differently. It was some save if he did get something on it.
Doyle was called upon for another round of saves before the 70th minute as Kelly raced onto a through ball. He came out quickly to block the striker’s effort before seeing Brennan’s follow-up blocked by the defence. Doyle got back into position just as Lewis swiveled and swung an effort straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Youths then had a spell as Bray relaxed but couldn’t create a true chance for themselves. Gary Delaney took the onus and had a pop from near the half way line, forcing Cherrie into a surprising save down at his side as the game entered the last ten minutes.
Cherrie was forced into another save soon after as Molloy turned inside the box and struck a fierce drive at goal. Luckily for the Bray stopper, he was able to grab it above his head without much trouble.
Connolly’s pace once more caused problems on the breakaway and he got down the right hand side to cross a ball into the box. While it missed the two strikers in the area, it came out to Brennan on the edge but his shot hit Lewis as it went wide of the target.
With the game slowly coming to a close, Gareth McDonagh picked up the ball and attempted a driven effort at goal. Doyle saw it just go over though.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie; Gareth McDonagh, Hugh Douglas, Conor Kenna, Sean Harding; Karl Moore (Sean Noble 86) Mark Salmon (Darragh Noone 83), Ryan Brennan, Dylan Connolly; Dean Kelly (Ger Pender 72), Andrew Lewis.
Subs not used: Sean Fogarty, Kieran Butler, Jason Marks, Daniel Blackbyrne.
Booked: H Douglas (60).
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Conor O’Keeffe, Gary Delaney, Ryan Delaney, Craig McCabe; Eric Molloy (Daniel Ledwith 90), Chris Kenny (Shane Dunne 54), Jonny Bonner, Andrew Mulligan (Adrien Friel 90); Daniel Furlong, Paul Murphy.
Subs not used: John Peare, Conor Whittle, Stephen Last, Matthew Connor.
Booked: R Delaney (11), E Molloy (47), G Delaney (71).
Referee: Graham Kelly.
Attendance: 350 (est).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Andrew Lewis (Bray Wanderers).