Andrew Dempsey reports from the Carlisle Grounds
Bray Wanderers were dealt a cruel blow in their league title charge on Saturday afternoon as they fell to a late injury time defeat to Galway United.
Substitute Carlton Ubaezuonu struck in the thrid minute of injury time to seal the deal for John Caulfield’s side who remain just about in the First Division promotion playoff hunt.
For Bray, they now must win away to Athlone Town on Tuesday evening and hope that Drogheda drop points away to Cabinteely.
Gary Cronin’s title hunters went into the game having made one change from their recent win over Shamrock Rovers II – with Gary Shaw returning to the fold after a recent injury.
The Tribesmen on the other hand made four switches from their latest defeat at home to Drogheda United, as Mikey Place returned to John Caulfield’s starting XI.
Fully aware that nothing less than a win would suffice in terms of keeping their playoff hopes alive, Galway started sluggishly and nearly fell behind in the fifth minute.
Shaw burst through on goal after an excellent slide tackle by Sean McEvoy in central midfield set him free, but Killian Brouder was on hand to block the goal-bound effort.
However, after their slow start, the visitors grew into the game, and went close through Place who struck from long-range.
The ex-Finn Harps forward picked up the ball from 25 yards out before firing it straight at Brian Maher who tipped the ball over the bar.
Bray remained a threat as the half wore on, and they were buoyed significantly by some poor goalkeeping from Kevin Horgan.
Horgan flapped at a Jack Watson cross into the penalty area, and Shaw went close as a result, but he could only head over the bar.
The ex-Shamrock Rovers 'keeper would present a great opportunity to Callum Thompson shortly after, but the ex-Wolves academy star could only fire wide of goal.
Despite a quick start from the hosts, they were unable to pierce though the staunch Galway defence.
Dylan Barnett’s low shot which cannoned off the post was the closest they came to breaking the deadlock as both teams went in scoreless at the half-time break.
The second period continued in the same vein as the first-half concluded, with precious few chances at either end of the pitch.
In the first real chance of the half, Shane Doherty headed over from a Timmy Molloy cross into the six-yard box.
The Seagulls then produced a chance of their own in the 68th minute, but Shaw could only see his header go straight at Horgan from a John Ross Wilson cross.
As time ran out for both sides, Thompson ought to have made more of his chance with just over ten minutes to play.
The former Bohemians winger was denied by Horgan in the United goal after he went on a brilliant burrowing run through the heart of the Galway back-line.
The visitors however rallied at the death, and they were rewarded for their character and efforts.
Firstly, Jack Watson fired straight at Horgan after a Ryan Graydon pull back, but he was unable to convert.
From the resulting counter, sub Francely Lomboto saw his shot smack off the crossbar, before the ball fell back into Carlton Ubaezuonu’s path seconds after.
The former Dundalk winger then fired home past Maher in the final moments of the game, unleashing incredible celebrations at the death.
The result leaves Galway still in the playoff hunt, while Bray must now pick themselves up ahead of their final league game of the season away to Athlone Town.
Bray Wanderers: Brian Maher; Dylan Barnett, Aaron Barry, Kilian Cantwell, John Ross Wilson; Ryan Graydon, Luka Lovic (Jack Watson 21), Sean McEvoy, Callum Thompson; Joe Doyle (Derek Daly 81), Gary Shaw (Darragh Lynch 68).
Subs not used: Adam Hayden, Paul Keegan, Cian Maher, Tristan Noack Hofmann.
Booked: Jack Watson (88).
Galway United: Kevin Horgan; Killian Brouder, Marc Ludden, Jack Lynch, Maurice Nugent; Shane Doherty, Shane Duggan, Timmy Molloy (Francely Lomboto 88), Mikey Place (Conor Barry 65), Sam Warde (Carlton Ubaezuonu 65); Enda Curran (Vinny Faherty 18).
Subs not used: Christopher Horgan, Cian Murphy.
Booked: Sam Warde (45), Shane Doherty (88).
Referee: Oliver Moran
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Carlton Ubaezuonu (Galway United).