Bray Wanderers 2-2 Sporting Fingal

Mon, Nov 16 2009
Sporting Fingal secured promotion to the top flight in only their second season after defeating Bray Wanderers 4-2 on aggregate in the promotion/relegation play-off. Having won Friday night's first leg 2-0, the second game, played tonight at the Carlisle Grounds, was drawn 2-2. This result also sees Wanderers' five-year stay in the Premier come to an end as they take Sporting's place in the First Division.

Bray could have taken the lead on 15 minutes through Gary McCabe. Some exquisite ball control by Dane Massey took him past two Sporting defenders. He burst down the left before pulling it back into the area for Paul Byrne on the penalty spot. His effort was blocked by Stephen Paisley and the ball fell to McCabe inside the area. He tried to curl the ball with his left-foot but his strike was straight at Darren Quigley.

In the 21st minute, Bray had a glorious chance which forced Darren Quigley into a smart double save. Paul Byrne flicked on a long ball which fell for John Flood. He took it on and advanced at the Sporting goal. He fired through the legs of Shaun Maher and forced Quigley to stretch across goal and push the ball away from danger. However, it fell to Paul Byrne and he instinctively swung a leg at the ball which flew towards goal. Once again, Quigley got in the way and blocked the Bray attack.

In the 28th minute, Wanderers were denied by Quigley again. This time a long ball forward by Daire Doyle landed with Dave Mulcahy in the box and he shot first time, forcing Quigley to save low-down and concede a corner.

A minute before the interval, it was Chris O'Connor's turn to stop a goal. Fingal worked the ball to Gary O'Neill and he held it up on the edge of the penalty area before hitting to the right-hand side for Conan Byrne. Byrne controlled before firing at the Bray goal. His fierce strike was too much for O'Connor to handle and the keeper had to collect it at the second attempt.

Three minutes into the second half, Wanderers' pressure continued and Paul Byrne drew another save from Darren Quigley. Byrne collected and turned his marker before shooting from 25 yards. His strike was on target and bounced in front of Quigley causing the Fingal keeper to fumble the ball out of play.

In the 56th minute, Fingal had a rare chance when Robert Bayly and Conan Byrne combined down the right. A one-two between them resulted in the ball falling for a Byrne volley from the edge of the area. His firm shot was on target but Chris O'Connor made a fine save and turned it behind.

A minute before the hour mark, a mess in the Bray defence saw Fingal take the lead. A long-ball forward by Lorcan Fitzgerald was not dealt with by the out-rushing Chirs O'Connor and Gary O'Neill played it out to Robert Bayly, who played a one-two with Conan Byrne as the Bray defence ran back. Bayly eventually shot from 25-yards but that was blocked by Derek Foran who threw himself in front of the ball ten yards from goal. The ball then fell for Eamon Zayed and the ex- Seagull composed himself before smashing the ball past the Bray defence.

Eight minutes later, Zayed should have doubled his side's lead when he was put through one-on-one by O'Neill. He sent O'Connor the wrong way but his side-footed shot from inside the box went wide of the Bray goal.

In the 72nd minute, Fingal had another great chance to score again. They had a four-on-one break which ended with O'Neill squaring the ball to Bayly. Bayly's strike was stopped once more by O'Connor who knocked it around the post with his feet.

Bray tried to get back into the game and it payed off in the 83th minute. Dane Massey's ball was flicked on by Paul Byrne for John Flood and the striker raced clear of the Fingal defence before lobbing a stranded Quigley from outside the box.

Bray clawed their way back into the game in unbelievable fashion in the 90th minute. After Jake Kelly's shot was blocked by Quigley once more, Bray had a corner on the left which McCabe lifted into the near post. Of all the Bray players, it was their goalkeeper Chris O'Connor who made a firm connection with his head and the ball flew past Quigley to make it 3-2 on aggregate.

However, O'Connor went from hero to villain in the space of two minutes. Once again, he failed to deal properly with a long-ball and, again, he was robbed by Gary O'Neill. O'Neill crossed low from the left and, despite Chris Deans' best efforts, the ball made it to the far post for Robert Bayly to tap it in from six yards and seal Sporting's promotion.

Bray Wanderers (4-4-2): Chris O'Connor; Daire Doyle, Derek Foran, Chris Deans, Gary Cronin (Colm Tresson, 68); Gareth Coughlan (Jake Kelly, 62), Dane Massey, Dave Mulcahy, Gary McCabe; John Flood, Paul Byrne. Subs not used: Dave O'Neill, Dave Webster, Brian Kane.

Sporting Fingal (4-5-1): Darren Quigley; Colm James, Shaun Maher, Stephen Paisley, Lorcan Fitzgerald; Conan Byrne, Shaun Williams (Alan Kirby, 81), Robert Bayly, Shane McFaul, Eamon Zayed; Gary O'Neill (Eric Foley, 90+6). Subs not used: Gareth Whelan, Brian Gannon, Chris Konopka.

Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Darren Quigley - the Sporting keeper was on hand to make several saves to keep the Wanderers at bay.

Referee: Declan Hanley (Dublin).

Attendance: 500 (estimate).