Gary Cronin has put together an impressive squad at Bray Wanderers and three straight wins at the start of the First Division campaign will have heightened optimism among the Seagulls of an immediate return to the Premier Division.
Cabinteely, Limerick and Galway were all dispatched in the early weeks of 2019 but that was followed by consecutive league defeats to the teams that finished last and second last in the 2018 league table; Athlone Town and Wexford.
Cup form has been equally mixed, with a 3-2 victory over Wexford in the EA Sports Cup, followed by a 2-1 defeat to Cabinteely in the Leinster Senior Cup, the latter result leaving Bray zero for three, as the Americans might say.
With both of Bray’s home league matches to date attracting crowds of over 1,000, it will be interesting to see if this downturn in form affects business at the turnstiles, but the nine points gained so far leaves them second in the table behind Shelbourne only on goal difference.
Manager Gary Cronin will be hoping this meeting bears some resemblance to the last time Bray met Cobh in a league fixture. He scored the winner as Bray won 3-2 at the Carlisle Grounds to secure Bray’s Premier Division survival. That was eleven years ago, in October of 2008, and Cobh’s manager that day? Stephen Henderson.
Cobh have had as mixed a start to the 2019 league campaign as Bray, but the Cork side’s form looks like the mirror opposite of their Co Wicklow opponents.
Having lost their opening two league fixtures without scoring a goal, to Drogheda United and Athlone Town, Stephen Henderson’s men then hammered Wexford 6-1 at St Colman’s Park. A 3-1 reverse to newly relegated Limerick was then followed by a very impressive home win over much fancied Shelbourne.
And while Cobh languish in 8th spot in the the First Division table, they are only three points behind the leading pack of three, one of which is Bray Wanderers.
Cobh’s underage graduates Jaze Kabia and Denzil Fernandes have been performing with flair and confidence, while the experience of players such as Ian Turner and Shane O’Connor offer a healthy balance in the Cobh ranks.
Striker Cian Leonard is another who offers attacking options but Henderson will no doubt be keen to get Nathan West back involved after the striker’s pre-season shoulder injury ruled him out before a competitive ball had been kicked.
At 9/2 with the bookies, Cobh look good value for a punt given Bray’s recent stumbles.
Referee: Andrew Mullally.
Bray manager Gary Cronin scored the winning goal when these teams last met, on 31 October 2008. Bray beat Cobh 3-2 in a match that ensured Bray would stay in the Premier Division. Cobh would go on to be relegated.
In the last season when Bray met Cobh in the league, 2008, Bray won all three games; 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2.
Cobh’s Jaze Kabia has four league goals this season, only one behind the Division’s top scorers, who are Ciaran Kilduff (Shelbourne) and Robert Manley (Cabinteely).
Bray 4/9, Draw 3/1, Cobh 9/2.
Bray Wanderers 2-2 Cobh Ramblers
Doubtful: Nathan West.