Sheppard double helps Cork delay Bray’s brave new dawn
City go back to the top of the table with comfortable win at the Carlisle Grounds
Cork City’s Karl Sheppard celebrates scoring their first goal in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division game against Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Bray Wanderers 1 Cork City 3
Exactly a year on from Bray Wanderers comparing the local council to a North Korean-style regime, their new owner Niall O’Driscoll was out front and centre at the Carlisle Grounds, keen to rebuild bridges.
It wasn’t just the politicians in the locality feeling the freeze, as a portion of their fan base didn’t take to the hierarchy, resulting in just 271 turning out for the previous home game against Sligo Rovers.
This 20th defeat of the season, coupled with nearest rivals Limerick beating Waterford, almost certainly means the revival plans under O’Driscoll’s tenure will be navigated from the First Division.
All the indications are the new-look Bray of 2019 will be dominated by young players but, even with some of experienced campaigners in their side, this latest defeat was men against boys.
Cork, a club resurrected less than a decade ago by their fans, operate on a completely different level these days and were far too powerful for the hosts as they went back to the top of the Premier Division table.
Bray were to regret an early missed chance by Ger Pender, one he dragged wide when put clear on goal by Jake Ellis, but their three-man central defensive unit were soon stretched by their fitter and stronger visitors.
Karl Sheppard put City on their way to leapfrogging Dundalk into top spot on 12 minutes by turning Rhys Gorman inside out on the left side before smashing a low drive across Evan Moran into the far corner.
The Bray goalkeeper was left static on the line eight minutes later when Garry Buckley scooped his shot off the crossbar but the Cork midfielder did better next time around, planting a free header home from Barry McNamee’s corner.
Defensive frailties were exposing Bray and another one, on 36 minutes, allowed Sheppard to brush off two defenders and volley into the net after being released through the centre by Damien Delaney’s header.
With the contest over the break, damage limited could have set in but Bray rallied and were rewarded by a delightful free kick from captain Gary McCabe on 66 minutes.
It got the biggest cheer of a night which could signal a change of fortunes for Bray, albeit patience will be required to see it unfurl.
BRAY WANDERERS: E Moran; R Gorman (D Hayes, 65 mins), C Kenna, S Heaney; S Harding, P O’Conor, D Noone (D Gibbons, 46 mins), K Lynch; G McCabe; J Ellis, G Pender (C Walsh, 72 mins).
CORK CITY: P Cherrie; S Beattie, S McLoughlin, D Delaney, S Griffin (J Dunleavy, 87 mins); C McCormack (K Sadlier, 46 mins), B McNamee, G Buckley (S Daly-Butz, 80 mins); J Keohane, G Cummins, K Sheppard.
Referee: P McLaughlin (Donegal)