Ogbene and Clarke help Limerick take vital point from Bray
Home side put aside off-field distractions but Limerick remain in real trouble
Limerick’s Chiedozie Ogbene scores his side’s equaliser in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Btay Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Bray Wanderers 1 Limerick FC 1
If it’s been another bad week for Bray Wanderers, it still threatens to turn into an awful season for Limerick whose steady slide down the table of late has left a side that was too good for the first division last year looking increasingly uncertain of their ability to avoid heading straight back there.
It could have been worse here with Neil McDonald’s side showing a bit of character to come from behind thanks to a fine Chiedozie Ogebene strike early in the second half but the English manager must have been hoping that the home side’s latest off-field drama would prove a little more distracting.
The hosts will feel they could won it and should certainly have had their opponents chasing things through the closing stages after Barry Cotter brought down Gary McCabe to concede a penalty 18 minutes from time. The former Shamrock Rovers player picked himself up to take the spot-kick and though it wasn’t the worst of efforts, Brendan Clarke got down well to push it wide.
Even that might end up making all the difference on the last day of the season but they seem set for some anxious times between now and then with four points separating five teams, three of whom have a game in hand on the Markets Field outfit.
They started brightly enough here, to be fair, with an early spell of pressure leaving Bray looking at the back a little like they had in the now infamous friendly with Waterford. As things settled, though, it was even enough stuff with both sides creating the odd half chance over the opening half hour without actually ever looking likely to score.
For the visitors, that side of things has become a huge concern in recent weeks with just one goal before this in six league games, a run that has been somewhat disguised by their progress to the semi-finals of the FAI Cup.
Inevitably, the drought has left to a string of points dropped.
Having let key players leave when things perhaps looked a little more secure back in the summer, they increasingly find themselves scrapping to stay just clear of the relegation battle as the lack of quality in key areas takes its toll.
Ultimately, they were worth their point but they will have not done nearly enough to give the small group of fans who travelled to see this game a decent night’s sleep after the journey home.
Rodrigo Tosi tested Peter Cherrie once or twice and Ogbene threatened to carve through the goalkeeper’s defence on occasion before he finally did it for the goal. But nothing quite clicked when it mattered over the course of an open and fairly entertaining first half. Late on, when things became very open indeed, they produced little more rally than a couple of efforts in the space of a minute from long range.
Bray’s contribution to the game had initially involved a lot of looking to hit the ball early and long to Aaron Greene. Tthe tactic’s success depended to a large degree on John Sullivan and Gary McCabe’s passing and both seemed slightly out of sorts.
Greene stuck with it but it was Darragh Noone who scored for the home side with the midfielder getting clear inside the area to gently help Keith Buckley’s angled free from the right beyond Clarke.
As the game progressed, though, they looked the more effective when it came to the attacking side of things.
Manager Harry Kenny seemed to sense that there was another goal there as he changed things slightly to reshape his attack and stretch a Limerick defence that often looked vulnerable with Cotter’s lack of experience clearly one of the factors at play.
Greene looked to have sent Jason Marks racing into the space behind the young full-back rather nicely at one point late on but Clarke saved his side on that occasion too by coming well out of his area to intercept the ball then clattering it far downfield.
It was not the prettiest way to get by but, like Bray, Limerick, you sense, would happily settle at this stage for getting to the end of the campaign without any further setbacks.
BRAY WANDERERS: Cherrie; Buckley, Kenna, Clancy, Moore (Ellis, 84 mins); Sullivan; Brennan, McCabe, Noone (Douglas, 78 mins), Marks (Rossiter, 74 mins); Greene.
LIMERICK: Clarke; Cotter, Kenny (D Clarke, 74 mins) O’Connor, Tracy; Hery; Kenny, Lynch (O’Flynn, 62 mins), Duggan, Ogbene; Tossi.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).