Macdara Ferris reports from Tallaght Stadium
Bray Wanderers took a big step towards claiming the First Division title at Tallaght Stadium on Saturday afternoon with a 1-0 win over Shamrock Rovers II.
Second half goals from Darragh Lynch and substitute Derek Daly were the difference on the day, with the victory moving the Seagulls five points clear of Drogheda United at the top of the table.
Gareth Cronin’s charges now know if they win their remaining two games they will claim that First Division crown and be playing Premier Division football next season.
With the Shamrock Rovers first team not having a fixture this weekend, Aidan Price brought Sean Kavanagh into his starting lineup – this was just the second time Rovers had used their one allowed outfield overage player in a First Division game this year.
Gareth Cronin decided not to risk his top scorer Gary Shaw in his starting XI as the former Hoops strike took up a position on the Bray bench – or in the stand as the substitutes are these days in these behind closed doors COVID-19 era fixtures.
Ryan Graydon was the most potent threat for Cronin’s side in the game giving the Rovers back three and left sided Max Murphy plenty of difficulty. On a couple of occasions his neat footwork created either a shooting chance or a crossing opportunity.
The Hoops needed a timely block by Cole Omorehiomwan to nullify Darragh Lynch’s well struck shot from the edge of the area.
The chances that did come Bray Wanderers way were wasted though and they didn’t trouble Leon Pohls in the Hoops goal in the opening 45.
At the other end, Brian Maher was forced into a number of saves – Dean Williams and Brandon Kavanagh both had shots that the ‘keeper got down well to push away.
The second effort came from a sweeping Hoops move with Sean Kavanagh’s drilled cross field ball expertly taken down by Brandon Kavanagh who shot on target after a neat one-two with Williams.
Aaron Bolger hit a sweet right foot volley that was just off target late on and Aidan Price would have been pleased with how his team faired in that first half against the First Division leaders.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead on 54 minutes. Jordan Tallon’s foul saw him pick up a yellow card and allow Dylan Barnett whip a free kick from the left into the box. Lynch’s side foot volley on the edge of the six yard box gave Pohls no chance.
Rovers II had the best spell of possession after the goal but Bray were happy to sit off the Hoops after taking the lead and were still dangerous when they moved forward when they had the ball.
A great run by Graydon should have been rewarded with the Seagulls doubling their lead a quarter of an hour from the finish but he dragged his effort wide of the goal.
However, the Bray winger rounded off an excellent performance with an assist three minutes from time as his beautiful cross from the right was volleyed home by Derek Daly to seal those important three points.
Shamrock Rovers II: Leon Pohls; Jordan Tallon, Cole Omorehioman, Adam Wells; Max Murphy, Brandon Kavanagh, Darragh Nugent © (Dean McMenamy 76),, Aaron Bolger, Sean Kavanagh (Dylan Duffy 61);Thomas Oluwa, Dean Williams (Aidomo Emakhu 81).
Subs not used: Alex Moody (gk), Darren Prendergast, Jamie Doyle, Sean Brennan.
Booked: Aaron Bolger (43), Jordan Tallon (53), Darragh Nugent (63), Thomas Oluwa (78).
Bray Wanderers: Brian Maher; Dylan Barnett, Kilian Cantwell, Aaron Barry ©, John Ross Wilson; Callum Thompson (Paul Keegan 83), Luka Lovic, Sean McEvoy (Jack Watson (90+2), Ryan Graydon (Marlon Marishta 90+1); Joe Doyle, Darragh Lynch (Derek Daly 71).
Subs not used: Adam Hayden (gk), Tristan Noack Hofmann, Gary Shaw.
Referee: Mark Moynihan
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Ryan Graydon (Bray Wanderers)