City’s performance in their opening home league game of the season was met with a chorus of boos from some sections of the large home following.
Inspired in their passing at times in the opening half, City’s game plan completely fell apart after the interval, allowing a young and game Bray side collect a valuable away point courtesy of a superb Stephen Fox strike from outside the penalty area.
Bray Wanderers chose the same side that disposed of St. Patrick’s Athletic last weekend, but Cork City were forced to re-jig their formation with a new front paring of Neale Fenn and Denis Behan. John O’Flynn bagged a hat-trick on Bray’ s last visit to Cork but the City striker cried off before kick-off with a hip injury.
There was a carnival atmosphere in Turner’s Cross, with a 7,000-strong crowd greeting Damien Richardson’s return to Leeside and the new boss was keen to continue his impressive start to the season.
From the off there was an urgency to the City side. Joe Gamble, a midfielder of skill and presence, orchestrated series of moves with deft passes and deep surging runs while Liam Kearney, lining out with a heavily strapped hand, fired in a series of left-footed crosses.
City had a wonderful opportunity in the eighth minute, when Gamble put Fenn through in the penalty area. The centre-forward’s delicate chip from the edge of the six-yard box was met by the in-rushing Kearney, but the winger’s header was brilliantly stopped by Chris O’Connor. The Bray keeper’s reflexes were superb, but the away side were unable to get a hold of midfield and relied on launching long balls from their own penalty area. Colm Tresson latched onto one but struck the side-netting.
City’s passing was dazzling at times, with George O’Callaghan linking up well with Gamble, while the team’s back four were developing a strong understanding.
City got a deserved breakthrough in the 38th minute, when a through ball over the Bray defence was met by Denis Behan, who flicked the pass to the net with a left-footed chip that beat the outrushing O’Connor.
It was a deft finish from Behan, who expended a lot of energy making runs and getting on the end of crosses.
Cork became complacent in the second half, losing their shape around midfield, which encouraged Bray to attack from deep.
Michael Devine had to be vigilant to deprive Eamon Zayed a certain goal in the 53rd minute from a delightful Ciaran Ryan cross.
Fenn had the ball in the Bray net in the 64th minute from a viciously struck Billy Woods cross but the former was deemed offside.
The tempo of the game had dropped by now, with City making little headway against a Bray back-four where Wesley Charles exuded authority and grace under pressure, and City got what they deserved in the 79th minute. Impressive substitute Stephen Fox picked the ball up in midfield and, from thirty yards, unleashed a superb low strike that beat Devine in the bottom corner.
City had claims for a handball turned down in the 83rd minute, with Bray winning a free out. City didn’t snap out of their lethargy and were met with boos at the final whistle.
CORK CITY: M Devine; N Horgan, A Bennett, D Murray, D Murphy; B Woods, J Gamble, G O’Callaghan, L Kearney; N Fenn, D Behan. Subs: G O’Halloran for Gamble and S Long for Fenn (both 85); R O’Donovan for Kearney (87).
BRAY WANDERERS: C O’Connor; P O’Reilly, J Lynch, W Charles, P Keogh; R Dunne, K Long, C Tresson, C Ryan; E Zayed, B McGrory. Subs: S Fox for McGrory (53); C James for Dunne (64); K Kelch for Long (74).
REFEREE: P Tuite (Dublin).