Andrew Dempsey reports from UCD Bowl
Gary Cronin’s Bray Wanderers produced a stirring second-half display to earn a thrilling 3-3 draw away to First Division rivals UCD.
The Students raced into a 3-0 lead at the half-time break, before they were pegged back in the second period thanks to goals from Glen Hollywood, Dean O’Shea and Charlie Gallagher.
Andy Myler’s young guns took the lead through Adam Farrell, while Adam Lennon and Ciaran Behan also got on the scoresheet.
While UCD took a 3-0 first-half lead, it was Bray in fact who started the better of the two teams – going close twice in the opening ten minutes of the game.
Jack Hughes was the first to go close, but his shot was blocked by UCD keeper Carl Williams who was forced into some early action.
Darragh Lynch then went close for the visitors, but his shot on goal was saved by Williams, this time with relative ease.
And despite their good start, the Seagulls fell behind thanks to Farrell’s opener in the 13th minute.
The young forward was found free in the six-yard box by Adam Lennon – who dragged the ball into his path – with Farrell making no mistake.
And UCD then made it two-nil six minutes later as Lennon fired home with aplomb.
The ex-Athlone Town teenager latched onto a long pass from deep to fire home past Kian Clarke in the Seagulls goal.
The concession of two quick goals stung Bray into life however, but the closes they came was through a Dean O’Shea shot from distance that was never troubling Williams in the UCD goal.
As the half petered out somewhat, the hosts netted a third through full-back Ciaran Behan.
Behan’s free-kick arrowed itself into the top corner of the Wanderers goal – leaving Cronin’s fringe players with a mountain to climb in the second period.
And that mountain almost grew substantially in the early stages of the second-half, but new UCD recruit Donal Higgins could not convert with his early chance.
On the hour mark, the Bray Wanderers fightback began, with Glen Hollywood heading home from a Joe Power corner kick.
Power – the brother of Irish under-21 international Simon – found Hollywood free in the penalty area, with the youngster making no mistake with his head.
Power was then involved minutes later as his corner broke down, with the ball falling into the path of O’Shea who drilled his low shot into the back of the UCD net.
And while UCD were having to fend off a Bray fightback, they did have chances of their own – but neither Evan Farrell nor Adam Verdon were able to score from long-range.
The Students were then made to pay for taking the foot off the gas in the 83rd minute as Charlie Gallagher poked home past Cormac Henry in the UCD goal.
And that was of course just moments before Bray almost found an equaliser through a UCD head, not that it mattered much in the end.
Incredibly, Bray almost found a winner in the 89th minute, but former Malahide United player Darren Craven saw his shot crash off the post as an entertaining pre-season game ended in a draw.
UCD: Carl Williams (Cormac Henry 60); Isaac Akinsete, Ciaran Behan, Luke Boore, Michael McHugh, Harvey O'Brien; Evan Farrell, Adam Lennon; Donal Higgins, Adam Verdon; Adam Farrell (Matthew Scott 41).
Subs not used: Eoin Farrell.
Bray Wanderers: Kian Clarke; Cian Maher, Jonathan Leddy, Sean Callan; Joe Power, Dean O'Shea, Ross O'Brien (Toby Owens 61), Jack Hughes (Neil Langan 55), Glen Hollywood; Darragh Lynch (Darren Craven, 80), Steven Kinsella (Charlie Gallagher 50).
Subs not used: Jack Ross, Richie O'Farrell, Luka Lovic.
Referee: Gavin Colfer
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Adam Lennon (UCD).