LOI FIRST DIVISION
Bray Wanderers 3
TWO goals in three second half minutes saw Bray claim victory in the East Coast Derby.
But two penalty decisions – one given, one not given – effectively decided the SSE Airtricity League First Division season opener in front of a bumper crowd at Stradbrook.
With the new temporary stand given its debut, Cabinteely thought they would be awarded a spot-kick on the hour mark when Robert Manley went down in the box.
However, referee Tomas Connolly opted to book the home forward on his debut.
Just over two minutes later, ex-Cabo front man Joe Doyle tangled with defender Conor Keeley with the match official pointing to the spot – despite the hosts protests.
Dylan McGlade slotted in the 12-yard dead-ball to set-up the visitors for their long-awaited away league win. Another two minutes later, and only hours after signing on loan from Waterford, Dean O’Halloran doubled that lead.
Keeley’s header off Keith Dalton’s corner was deflected wide as the home side tried to rally. But McGlade wrapped up matters in the last minute of stoppage time to make 3-0 as Wanderers won on the road for the first time in 18 attempts.
The home club gave four debuts to Seán Hurley, Eoin Massey, Vilius Labutis and Manley.
Bar goalkeeper Gabriel Sava and centre half Seán Heaney, the Wicklow club handed first-ever starts in their colours to nine outfield players including skipper Paul Keegan, McGlade and Doyle.
With a difficult cross-field wind playing havoc with the conditions, clear-cut chances were few and far between in the opening period.
Former Seagull Kieran Marty Waters almost got in along the left channel after 21 minutes. But Sava’s vital touch conceded a corner.
Dylan Barnett then made a vital block before the line to keep out Keeley’s header from Dalton’s corner.
Making his second debut for Wanderers after nearly a decade apart, Sava then made a fine save to thwart Bray native Luke Clucas off a 34th minute free.
Doyle then went close haunting his former charges when lobbing Stephen McGuinness eight minutes before the interval. But the ball dropped agonisingly wide.
Despite the setback, Cabinteely Director of Football Pat Devlin took plenty of positives from the tie. And he hopes to take those positives into Friday’s first away fixture of the season against Shelbourne on Friday at Tolka Park (kick-off 7.45pm).
“For 60 minutes of the game, we did very well. We applied ourselves in the first half. We had four of our starting 11 out injured. I was happy enough with the performance.
“We had a lot of set-pieces; good play. Conor Keeley went close with a cou-ple of headers. Overall, it wasn’t a bad performance. I think the scoreline flattered Bray.”
He described the penalty decisions were “the real killer”.
“I thought Rob Manley was a definite penalty. He looked to be clipped. But referee Tommy Connolly decided it wasn’t. We were a little bit unlucky. But we’re not despondent. There were some very good performances from the likes of Seán Hurley, Vilius Labutis, Zak O’Neill and Eoin Massey. Overall, plenty of positives.”