Bray Wanderers hand Dundalk a second straight league defeat

Champions suffer back-to-back league losses for first time in three years

 Mark Salmon celebrates after scoring Bray Wanderers’ first goal in the Airtricity League Premier Division game against Dundalk at the Carlisle Grounds. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Mark Salmon celebrates after scoring Bray Wanderers’ first goal in the Airtricity League Premier Division game against Dundalk at the Carlisle Grounds. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Bray Wanderers 2 Dundalk 1

A little intoxicated by their European heroics, perhaps, Dundalk allowed their grip on things at the top of the league to be loosened a little at the Carlisle Grounds where, for the first time in almost three years, they suffered a second successive Premier Division defeat.

A week ahead of their Champions League playoff first leg, Stephen Kenny’s side failed to make anything like enough of their early dominance against hosts whose recent improvement provided evidence that they could not be taken for granted. Dundalk ended up paying the price when Karl Moore grabbed the Wanderers winner 10 minutes from time with a curling free from 25 metres out.

Any Polish club officials amongst the crowd are bound to have been encouraged by what they saw, especially through a first half in which Dundalk failed to convert their chances.

Kenny had made three changes to the side that lost in Galway at the weekend with Stephen O’Donnell, David McMillan and John Mountney all returning and for a while it looked as though the champions might coast past a side that had conceded just once in a run of six games unbeaten.

Certainly they were completely on top as they took the lead after McMillan fed Robbie Benson, whose shot was parried into the path of Daryl Horgan who blasted home from six yards. Horgan sent other, longer range efforts wide and over but should probably have scored when, having been put clean through, he slipped the ball low past Peter Cherrie but saw the effort come back off the foot of the far post.

Cherrie played his part in keeping his old side out too, most memorably early on when he reacted quickly to save from Benson while Hugh Douglas cleared a Paddy Barrett header off the line. Dundalk’s advantage remained slim and gradually the hosts started to get into the game, with their first real chance coming half an hour in when Dylan Connolly controlled John Sullivan’s 30-yard ball quite brilliantly but couldn’t quite hit the target as Seán Gannon made life hard for him.

Connolly then came into his own for a spell with his pace clearly causing Dundalk problems and when Barrett bundled him over after having been beaten by him for the second time in quick succession, Kevin Lynch stepped up to take a free that Douglas turned back across the goal for Mark Salmon to turn goalwards.

With five minutes still to play before the break, there seemed, at that stage, to be plenty of time for the league leaders to recover their early momentum but Bray held their own through a tighter, more toughly contested second period and had a goal disallowed for offside themselves before Moore’s goal left the champions chasing things.

There were a couple of half chances but Dundalk’s usual composure deserted then and late on Horgan’s big day was made all the more miserable when he curtailed a Bray break with a foul on Connolly that earned him a red card that could keep him out of the league game against Cork.

BRAY WANDERERS: Cherrie; Douglas, Kenna, Clancy, Lynch; Sullivan; McDonagh (Marks, 62 mins), Salmon, Moore, Connolly; Pender (Lyons, 80 mins).

DUNDALK: Rogers; Gannon, Barrett, Boyle, Massey; O’Donnell, Shields; Mountney (Meenan, 70 mins), Benson (Kilduff, 66 mins), Horgan; McMillan (M O’Connor, 82 mins).

Referee: N Doyle (Dublin).

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