Dundalk forced to work harder than expected in seeing off Bray
The home side rallied after recent abysmal performances but it still wasn’t enough
Bray Wanderers Cory Galvin challenges Sean Gannon of Dundalk. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Bray Wanderers 0 Dundalk 2
Maybe the Bray players really did take that long look at themselves that everyone seemed to be recommending because they were a lot better here than might have been expected.
A point to go with the solitary one they currently have certainly would not have flattered them but in the end they not quite good enough to secure it against league leaders who led for most of the night thanks to Pat Hoban’s first half strike and then wrapped things up through John Mountney in the fourth minute of time added on.
The victory strengthened Dundalk’s position at the top of the table somewhat although their second half performance was surely well short of what Stephen Kenny would have been looking for at the break. Bray had the better of things and while they didn’t threaten too much, Gary McCabe came very close to catching Gabriel Sava off his line from 50 yards or so out while Ger Pender was about one off connecting with a Jake Kelly cross with a couple of minutes remaining.
With Dave Mackey having departed since the 5-0 defeat in Inchicore and Martin Russell having arrived but not yet, it seems, taken charge, interim boss Graham Kelly made five changes to the home side’s starting lineup, two of them enforced.
A significant improvement on that performance was sort of inevitable but Wanderers really did show enough here to suggest they could dig themselves out of trouble if only they could must similar levels of commitment on a consistent basis.
Dundalk, in any case, had to work a good deal harder than St Patrick’s did to break their hosts down and though Robbie Benson and Dane Massey managed efforts from distance over the course of the first half, Wanderers had their chances too with Aaron Greene and McCabe both testing Sava with fiercely driven shots struck just inside the area.
Greene had his work cut out, chasing down balls played into space with Dan Cleary and Stephen Folan generally keeping him quiet but then the Bray players tended to give each other a little bit too much to do in just about every department while Dundalk kept the ball that bit better though the opening half and always seemed that little bit better equipped to open their opponents up.
Still, the only goal in it by the break was an opportunistic strike by Pat Hoban after Wanderers had failed to properly clear a corner in from the left. The striker connected with the half-volley perfectly and Aaron Dillon, who generally did well, was left with no chance of keeping it out.
He had almost nothing to do through the second half but was left helpless again after good work by Michael Duffy teed up Mountney to score from close range with almost the final kick of the game.
Bray Wanderers: Dillon; McKenna (Kelly, 83 mins), Douglas, Kenna, Lynch; O’Conor, Gorman (Pender, 65 mins); Coughlan, McCabe, Galvin (Heaney, 74 mins); Greene.
Dundalk: Sava; Gannon, Cleary, Folan, Massey; Shields, Benson; McGrath (O’Donnell, 85 mins), Adorján (Mountney, half-time), Duffy; Hoban (Tagbajumi, 74 mins)
Referee: S Grant (Wexford).