Date: 7:45 p.m. July 17, 2009
The win puts Bray right back in the relegation battle along with Sligo Rovers, Drogheda and now Galway United. It also ends an impressive six-league-game unbeaten streak for the Boynesiders. Bray were lucky to hold on for the win, as they failed to get a solitary shot on target in the second half with Drogheda regularly bombarding the visiting goal in search of the elusive equaliser.
Ian Ryan put the visitors ahead after 12 minutes, the Drogheda defender heading past his own keeper despite Paul Skinner’s calls for the ball. The goal came from Bray’s first foray into the Drogheda half after being under the cosh for the opening period.
The second, which came ten minutes later, materialised from nothing. Bray were forced to play across the Drogheda box as they could not penetrate the back four, however Gary McCabe picked the ball up on the 20 yard line and dribbled to his right and struck a sweet shot into the top corner just out of reach of the diving Skinner.
The home side did however pull a goal back before the break as a James Chambers free kick was handled by Patrick Kavanagh in the box and up stepped Shane Barrett to coolly dispatch the spot kick to the left of the keeper.
Drogheda began the game in their normal fashion, forcing Bray to defend deep and deal with a lot of early pressure, the right wing pairing of James Chambers and Robbie Clarke working well.
Drogheda nearly equalised moments after they conceded, Chris O’Connor failed to hold a Chambers free kick and Jamie Duffy almost tapped home, but the keeper scrambled to claim the ball at the second time of asking.
Drogheda almost had pulled one back on 27 minutes when Jamie Duffy managed to beat Dave Webster as Alan McNally played a sweet through ball, however O’Connor managed to save the subsequent shot.
Guy Bates came on at half time in place of Duffy, and the striker hassled the Bray defence down the left, making life miserable for both Derek Pender and Derek Foran.
The home side won four corners within the first five minutes of the second half as the Alan Mathews' team talk seemed to work wonders.
The Geordie almost made an immediate impact, as on 51 minutes he picked up the ball on the wing and beat Foran to the endline and sent in a low cross that Robbie Martin raced on to, but the midfielder couldn’t direct his shot on target.
Chris O’Connor came to Bray’s rescue once again as Drogheda funnelled down the left as Chambers beat Pender and crossed into the box where Bates got the ball and turned to lay it off to the on rushing Shiels, whose curling shot was saved by a lunging O'Connor and tipped just around the post.
The final ten minutes had the handful of travelling support sweating, as Drogheda pushed harder for a leveller. On 80 minutes Barrett took the ball down the right and whipped in a menacing cross, but it was too close to O’Connor.
Then minutes later a Brian King overhead pass to Paul Crowley saw the sub attempt an audacious diving header which he connected with but failed to direct the shot on target.
Bates then saw a shot skim wide, a rather quiet Brendan McGill making his home debut whipped an inviting cross into the Bray box on 85 minutes as Bates flicked it on and the header by Paul Shiels looked certain for the back of the net until a diving effort by Chris Shields cleared the ball off the line.
O’Connor saved two minutes into injury time when a Chambers freekick was headed back out by Crowley and Shiels header on goal was stopped by the net minder.
The win for Bray will no doubt inspire some confidence in what was quickly looking to be a beleaguered side and they now face a home visit from Galway United. Alan Mathews will have to go back to the drawing board for next week’s big clash away to fierce local rivals Dundalk.
Drogheda United: Skinner, Ryan, McNally, Kenna, R. Clarke, King, Chambers, Shiels, Martin, Duffy, Barrett.
Subs: Bates for Duffy (46 mins), McGill for Martin (64 mins), Crowley for Ryan (73 mins).
Bray Wanderers: O'Connor, Pender, Foran, Webster, Knight, Kavanagh, Brennan, Mulcahy, Shields, McCabe, S. O'Neill.
Subs: Massey for Knight (58 mins), D. O'Neill for Brennan (79 mins) Mulroy for S. O'Neill (85 mins).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Chris O’Connor – Despite dropping a few shots the net minder got his positioning spot on and was never afraid to come and claim a ball
Referee: Damien Hancock (Dublin).