Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny bemoaned the fact his side hadn’t won a penalty in the league in a year this week then saw his side concede two last night, as Bray Wanderers shocked the champions at Oriel Park.
Two spot kicks from Gary McCabe and a killer third goal from Ryan Brennan ensured a huge victory for the Seagulls as they moved level on points with the champions, who now trail leaders Cork City by nine points.
Referee Jim McKell was booed off at the end by the large home support, who were infuriated by both decisions, which could have a huge bearing on this season’s title race.
Dundalk had dominated the first half, but all too often fired straight at Peter Cherrie, who was only forced into a save of note on 17 minutes when he turned Jamie McGrath’s shot around the post.
Bray’s only effort of the first half came on 31 minutes when Brian Gartland almost turned the ball into his own net from a corner only to see it hooked off the line by Niclas Vemmelund.
The visitors were then awarded their first penalty on 54 minutes, with McCabe dispatching after Stephen O’Donnell was adjudged to have fouled Aaron Greene in the box. The champions would be behind less than three minutes, however, as O’Donnell made up for his mistake by latching onto David McMillan’s pass to dink a shot over Cherrie to make it 1-1.
Oriel Park was rocked 10 minutes later though, when Bray were awarded a second spot kick after Brennan went down in the box from a Dylan Connolly free. Once again, McCabe stepped up to slot home.
Things went from bad to worse for the Lilywhites when the visitors made it 3-1 on 74 minutes. It looked like the danger was cleared when Vemmelund nipped in ahead of John Sullivan to hook a cross clear, but Brennan was on hand to hammer home the rebound to silence Oriel Park.
It was a huge win for the Wicklow men, but even at this early stage, Dundalk’s hopes of retaining their title look to be in a spot of bother.
Rogers; Vemmelund, Gartland, Hoare, Massey; McGrath (Kinsella 74), Clifford (O’Donnell HT), Shields, Duffy (Stewart 80); McEleney; McMillan.
Bray Wanderers; Cherrie; Buckley, Foran, Clancy, Marks (Moore 79); Brennan (Noone 88), Salmon, McCabe, Sullivan, Connolly (Flood 85); Greene.
J McKell (Tipperary).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved