Galway United came away from the Carlisle Grounds with the point they so desperately needed as Gary Shanahan’s fluke goal saw them take home a share of the spoils after John Sullivan’s opener, and more importantly, may have handed them Premier Division survival.
Bray started much the better and had a great chance to take the lead in the fifth minute of the game. David Cassidy started the move off with a lofted ball down the left channel for Ryan McEvoy to run onto and he crossed it towards the centre of the box.
It missed several players before falling to Graham Kelly at the back post to lash home. However, he somehow striked the ball well wide of Conor Winn’s goal.
Chances came and went for either side as the game became more even. John Sullivan had a shot blocked on the edge of the box before Galway had a good chance of their own, with Ryan Connolly nearly catching Peter Cherrie out with a low, long range freekick.
Peter Cherrie would then have his reflexes tested to the extreme as Jake Keegan raced onto a hooked ball over the top by Connolly. The American shot towards the inside corner, which the Bray goalkeeper did brilliantly to push away and he was then up quickly to block Connolly’s follow-up from giving Galway the lead.
This was to be important as a short time later, in the eighteenth minute, Bray broke the deadlock. Ryan McEvoy’s delivery from a corner saw Sullivan get up and plant a header downwards towards goal. Winn looked to have prevented the ball going over the line but linesman thought otherwise and Bray were given the goal.
Yet the goal advantage would only last three minutes, with Galway restoring parity in odd circumstances. Peter Cherrie had just claimed a long ball when he elected to quick start an attack. He threw the ball out to fullback Michael Barker, who didn’t realize his goalkeeper’s intentions and had turned his back. The ball hit off his heel, fell to the feet of Gary Shanahan, who took one touch before curling it over the stranded Cherrie.
The game went flat a little after the equalizer as both sides were electing to go long. Jake Keegan got on the end of a ball from Sinnott but Cherrie stood up well and blocked the shot in what would be the last clear cut chance of the half.
Bray started the second half in a similar way to the first, with Graham Kelly firing off an early shot into Winn’s arms. That would be the start of a half where both goalkeepers were need to come out and claim as crosses from both sides were too near them.
Galway could have taken the lead around the hour mark as they had three good chances. The first was from a Ludden long throw as Connolly got down the left wing. He crossed a low ball into the box but Curran’s leg just missed it as Cherrie dived down and smothered.
Another Ludden throw directly into Keegan only a minute later saw him shoot at Cherrie from a tight angle. The striker then got onto the rebound but once again the former Dundalk netminder palmed his effort away.
Ludden became central to the Galway counters as he then drove from midfield all the way into the box before cutting back to Enda Curran on the edge of the area. However, the striker had his shot blocked by a sliding Michel Barker.
Bray then had a few chances of their own as Dave Scully nearly closed down the Galway goalkeeper’s clearance before Ryan McEvoy had a long shot that Winn struggled to get under control with Cassidy ready to pounce.
As the game slowly came towards its end, both sides had half chances. First Dave Cassidy went down in the area after he seemed to be caught by Winn diving for the ball, although the referee saw differently and booked him for simulation, and then Jake Keegan hit a freekick under the wall that Cherrie had well covered.
The final whistle went with both sides looking satisfied as Galway United fans started to sing “We are staying up”. Perhaps not mathematically just yet, but it’s a pretty sure bet.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie; Hugh Douglas, Alan McNally, Niall Cooney, Michael Barker; John Sullivan; Adam Hanlon (Adam Wixted 67), Ryan McEvoy, Graham Kelly, Dave Cassidy; Dave Scully (Chris Lyons 82).
Subs not used: Sean Fogarty, Daniel O’Reilly, Adam Mitchell, Luke Fitzpatrick, Emeka Onwubiko.
Booked: Cassidy (79), Cherrie (87)
Galway United: Conor Winn; Colm Horgan, Sam Oji, Paul Sinnott, Marc Ludden; Gary Shanahan, David O’Leary (Cormac Raftery 30), Ryan Connolly, Conor Melody (Tomi Saarelma 80); Jake Keegan, Enda Curran (Andy O’Connell 85).
Subs not used: Ger Hanley, Conor Barry, Jason Molloy.
Referee: Ray Matthews.
Attendance: 600 (estimate).
Extratime Man of the Match: Colm Horgan (Galway United).