Bray Wanderers 1 (Joe Doyle, 24′)
Cobh Ramblers 0
Bray Wanderers have returned to winning ways, after a first-half Joe Doyle goal sealed victory for Gary Cronin’s men over Cobh Ramblers to send the Seagulls to the top of the Airtricity League First Division.
Having lost their previous two league games in a row, Bray went into Friday night’s game at the Carlisle Grounds knowing that a win — and Athlone Town failing to win — would see them claim top spot in the league until Shelbourne face Longford on Saturday.
In a dominant, albeit wasteful, performance, Bray eased their way to the three-points, with Joe Doyle netting his second goal of the season after Cobh goalkeeper Adam Mylod had spilled Phillip Gannon’s long-range strike.
The hosts had plenty of chances to extend their lead, but had to settle for the 1-0 scoreline, as they regained their place at the top of the league summit.
From the first whistle, the onus was on Wanderers to take the game to Cobh Ramblers, as the 541 spectators in attendance willed the Seagulls to respond to their consecutive league losses to Athlone Town and Wexford.
The deadlock was very nearly broken early, when the energetic Dean O’Halloran crossed for Dylan McGlade, only for McGlade to shoot straight at the Cobh goalkeeper.
With 14 minutes on the clock, Joe Doyle headed the ball wide from a Dylan Barrett cross when it seemed easier to score, only for the young striker to make up for the mistake 10 minutes later.
Gathering the ball on the edge of the box, Phillip Gannon took aim and fired a shot towards the Cobh goal. Attemption to catch the ball, Adam Mylod dropped it into the path of Joe Doyle, who made no mistake in sweeping home for his second league goal of the season.
Doyle may have been the goalscorer, but it was O’Halloran who was in the middle of everything good that Bray were doing on the pitch. His reverse ball inside the box sent Derek Daly towards the goal, only for the attacker to hit the floor and be booked by referee Andrew Mullally for simulation.
The second-half saw more of the same as Bray looked to extend their lead. An O’Halloran strike was easily saved, before the same man flicked Joe Doyle through one-on-one with Mylod, only for Doyle to fluff the opportunity.
The next in a long line of chances fell to 18-year-old Luke Nolan, when a great ball over the top from Gannon was squared back across by McGlade, only for Nolan to fail to make clinical contact for the goal.
Nolan almost returned the favour, as his cross for McGlade allowed for the 23-year-old to force Mylod into a good save.
For all of their dominance over possession and chances, Bray were almost made to pay for their wastefulness when the ball fell to Cobh substitute Stephen O’Leary. Fortunately for Gary Cronin, the resultant shot was blocked away well by the alert Seán Heaney.
From the following corner, Dean O’Halloran once again showed his quality by breaking up-field with the ball at his feet. He then worked the ball onto Gannon, who could only shoot straight at Mylod.
Bray held on to record the three points to rise back to the top of the SSE Airtricity League First Division. Next up for the Seagulls is the visit of Shamrock Rovers to the Carlisle Grounds on Monday night in the second round of the EA Sports Cup, before Cronin’s men travel to Shelbourne the following Friday.
WicklowNews Player of the Match: Dean O’Halloran (Bray Wanderers)
Bray Wanderers: G. Sava; L. Nolan, K. Cantwell, S. Heaney, D. Barrett (c); P. Gannon, R. Purdy (L. Lovic, 74′); D. McGlade, D. O’Halloran, D. Daly; J. Doyle.
Cobh Ramblers: A. Mylod; K. Taylor, J. McSweeney, D. Hurley, I. Turner (B. Murphy, 70′), S. O’Connor (c), S. Kenny (S. O’Leary, 64′), S. Christopher, C. Lyons, D. Fernandes, J. Kabia.