Dundalk 1 Bray Wanderers 0: Andy Boyle’s first goal in exactly one year and one week proved the difference as Dundalk scraped their way past relegation battlers Bray Wanderers at Oriel Park last night.
The centre-half hadn’t found the net since May 4 last year, ironically against the same opposition.
On that occasion Dundalk ran out comfortable 8-1 winners but they were given a much tougher test last night as Harry Kenny’s side frustrated them for long periods.
Still, Boyle’s early goal was enough to secure the victory that keeps the Louth men four points clear at the top of the Premier Division entering the second round of fixtures.
The home side hit the front with the game’s first attempt at goal in the 21st minute.
A Daryl Horgan free on the right was taken short to Ronan Finn with his delivery to the back post steered back across goal to the right hand corner of the net by the head of Boyle.
After Chris Shields and Finn went close with efforts of their own, Boyle almost grabbed a second in the 29th minute.
Once again he got up highest at the back post but his header from Horgan’s corner could only find the roof of the net on this occasion.
Bray then had their one and only effort of the half nine minutes later when Robbie Creevy found space on the edge of the area to fire just over.
Almost immediately Dundalk broke upfield with Horgan bursting clear of two defenders on the left before Finn crossed invitingly to David McMillan who scuffed wide from eight yards with the goal at his mercy.
McMillan then had two good chances either side of the break only to be flagged offside on both occasions.
That meant that it was the visitors who threatened first on the restart with Alan McNally getting on the end of Karl Moore’s corner only to head it across the face of goal.
Finn then pulled a shot wide from the edge of the area on 53 minutes following a cut back from Dane Massey but despite a few long range efforts the champions were struggling to break down the Seagulls.
That meant that Bray were always in with a shout of an equaliser and they almost got it in the 73rd minute when Creevy’s shot from the right had to be beaten away by Gary Rogers.
McMillan did go close yet again two minutes later for the hosts but his downward header from John Mountney’s cross was wonderfully turned around the post by Cherrie.
Bray had a chance to level a minute from the end when Dylan Connolly raced through on goal but his low shot was kept out by the legs of Rogers.
Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Mountney (Barrett 80), Shields, Benson (Meenan 68), Horgan; Finn, McMillan.
Cherrie; Douglas, McNally, Kenna, Harding (McDonagh 74); Connolly, Creevy, Salmon, Moore, Marks (Brennan 69); Pender (Kelly 69).
D Tomney (Dublin).
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