Bray Wanderers 2 Dundalk 1: Bray upset the script to disrupt Dundalk’s Champions League plans with a come from behind victory thanks to Karl Moore’s stunning late free-kick.
The two-time defending Premier Division champions looked set to steam-roll past Bray after a storming opening 30 minutes display at the Carlisle Grounds that saw them take the lead through birthday boy Daryl Horgan.
The 24-year-old’s night though ended badly as he was harshly sent off three minutes into stoppage time when bringing down the breaking Dylan Connolly. That was after Mark Salmon’s leveller gave Wanderers hope just before half time.
With the hosts unbeaten in six outings before kick-off, speed king Dylan Connolly was blocked off by ex-Bray man Dane Massey 25-yards out in the 80th minute. Moore then bent the dead-ball up and over the wall past the despairing fingertips of Gary Rogers.
It was Dundalk’s first back-to-back away League losses under Stephen Kenny’s stewardship having succumbed to Galway last week. Wanderers are now 10-points clear of Longford Town with a fixture in hand.
The visiting Legia Warsaw scout’s would have been impressed with the Louth teams opening barrage. It took a fantastic reaction stop by Bray keeper Peter Cherrie to prevent the away side taking an eighth-minute lead.
John Mountney’s deep right wing cross was nodded back by David McMillian with Robbie Benson’s close range over-head kick being pushed out off the line by the Scottish custodian.
But Cherrie was unable to prevent Dundalk going ahead four minutes later. Stephen O‘Donnell won a header with McMillan then feeding Benson. He embarked on a mazy run that evaded three tackles before unleashing a shot Cherrie parried. But Horgan followed up to bury his seventh top-flight goal of the season. The woodwork denied him an eighth score soon after.
Under siege, the Wicklow side were thankful to full-back Hugh Douglas who took Paddy Barrett’s header off the goal-line from Mountney’s corner kick. Despite all Dundalk’s pressure Wanderers grabbed an unlikely equaliser six minutes before the interval. Kevin Lynch’s deep free from the right side of the penalty area was looped back across goal by Douglas and Salmon arrived to poke past Rogers with ex-Seagull Chris Shields deflecting the ball into the net.
The second period lacked the goal-scoring chances that the first-half offered.
Horgan blazed over after latching onto a Benson lay-off in the 52nd minute. Then just before the hour, Mountney’s long range free was easily smothered by Cherrie.
Cherrie; Douglas, Kenna, Clancy, Lynch; Sullivan, McDonagh (Marks 62), Moore, Salmon, Connolly, Pender (Lyons 81).
Rogers; Gannon, Boyle, Barrett, Massey; O’Donnell, Shields; Mountney (Meehan 71), Benson (Kilduff 66), Horgan; McMillan (Michael O’Connor 82).
Neil Doyle (Dublin).
The Premier Clubs Alliance issued a statement last night saying “the PCA met again this evening. We had a fruitful meeting and it was agreed we will continue to work constructively with the FAI for the betterment of the League of Ireland.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved