Patrick O’ Connor reports from the Carlisle Grounds
Bray Wanderers scored a comfortable 3-1 win over basement side Wexford at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night and in so doing jumped ahead of UCD to now occupy fourth placed in the First Division table.
500 supporters were allowed into the seaside venue and while it would be an exaggeration to say the home side put on a great spectacle for the returning fans, they were competent throughout and generally held the Wexford challenge at bay for most of the match.
The first half was a scrappy affair, not helped by the blinding sun from the town end of the pitch, and Bray had the few chances that were going but did not capitalise on them.
Two of the better opportunities fell to Darren Craven but, on each occasion, he did not show enough composure and the chances were missed.
Dylan Barnett lined up Craven for a shot in the seventh minute but while he was well positioned and unopposed at the edge of the box, he skimmed the ball wide of the post without testing goalkeeper Jimmy Corcorcan.
In the 24th minute he had an even better opportunity when Brandon Kavanagh played a great ball over the defence allowing Craven to have a one-on-one chance with Corcoran but he blazed over when a bit more subtlety could have given the Seagulls the lead.
The same two players Corcoran and Craven were the central characters in Bray’s opening goal when it did come right on the stroke of half time.
Corcoran advanced to the left touchline to clear a fairly routine long ball from the Bray defence but he completely mistimed his kick. When the ball landed at Craven’s feet, he expertly lobbed the ball into the empty net from the touchline, at least 30m from goal.
The 1-0 half time lead for Gary Cronin’s side was on they just about deserved.
There was a more determined approach from Wexford in the opening stages of the second half with Paul Fox, Conor Crowley and Jack Moylan beginning to exert a greater influence in midfield.
It was another defensive error, this time in the Bray defence, which led to the second goal of the match.
A long ball into the Bray backline in the 57th minute saw Mark Byrne direct a poor header back to his keeper and the lively Jack Doherty intercepted the back pass, rounded the keeper Brian Maher and slotted the ball into an empty net.
Wexford did not lack for effort throughout the game and at that stage were deserving of the equaliser.
Bray’s response was immediate though and within eight minutes they were 2-1 ahead. This time it was Joe Doyle’s blistering pace which caused the damage. He breezed past Wexford left back Kevin McEvoy in the 65th minute and pulled the ball back from the end line to allow substitute Callum Thompson fire past Corcoran.
Both sides emptied their benches in the final 20 minutes which meant the game ended on a scrappy note with Bray generally on top of proceedings and it was no surprise when they put the result beyond doubt in the 89th minute.
Ryan Graydon, one of Bray’s substitutes, powered into the box at pace and was fouled by a Wexford defender. Graydon himself grabbed the ball and struck the resultant penalty well past Corcoran to secure the three points.
Bray Wanderers: Brian Maher; Dylan Barnett, Daniel Jones, Richie O'Farrell, Andrew Quinn, Brandon Kavanagh (Gary Shaw 76), Conor Clifford (Luca Lovic 84) Mark Byrne, Darren Craven (Ryan Graydon 84), Joe Doyle, Sam Verdon (Callum Thompson 50)
Subs not used: Kian Clarke, Steven Kinsella, Aaron Barry, Sean Callan.
Booked: Conor Clifford (14)
Wexford: Jimmy Corcoran, Paul Cleary, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Kevin McEvoy, Conor Crowley, Karl Manahan (c) (Thomas Considine 70), Paul Fox (Anto Dolan 70), Jack Moylan, Jack Doherty, Karl Fitzsimons (Harry Groome 78), Kyle Robinson (Evan Farrell 78).
Subs Not Used: Sean Martin, Donal Porter, Daniel Dobbin, Aymed Yousif, Kieran Murphy.
Booked: Kevin McEvoy (4), Karl Manahan (31), Jack Moylan (94).
Referee: Paul Norton
Extratime.com Player of the Match: Dylan Barnett (Bray Wanderers)