Ten-man Bray Wanderers clung on for a point as Shamrock Rovers' stuttering title bid continued at the Carlisle Grounds.
In a rip roaring encounter by the seaside, both side spurned several chances to win the game. At the final whistle, Wanderers recorded their first home clean sheet of 2010, while the Dubliners drew for the fourth straight match.
After the Seagulls edged the opening period, the Hoops came out fired up for the second half. Gary Twigg lobbed wide within 90 seconds of the restart. The Hoops should have went ahead in the 49th minute. Twigg rose to meet a Chambers cross. The ball ran loose to Robert Bayly who somehow fired over form four yards with the goal at his mercy.
The home team played with ten-min from 81st minute after full-back Shane O’Connor was dismissed for the second time this season after two yellow cards for fouling sub Billy Dennehy.
Rovers could have won it in the 90th minute. Craig Sives climbed to meet James Chambers cross but Kane blocked bravely with his line on the line. Having scored in the last three meetings between the clubs, Twigg somehow failed to add to that tally early on.
After just five minutes, he latched onto long fifth minute through
ball. The Scot lofted over the on-rushing Brian Kane with the ball
dropping wide of the post.
Four minutes later debutante Derek Prendergast made a vital block to prevent Twigg getting on the end of Bayly’s low centre.
Then in the 19th minute, Dave Webster made two vital quick fire interventions. First the defender’s headed flick to Sean O’Connor’s delivery proved crucial as two Rovers players readied to pounce.
Seconds later, Bayly’s jinking run and cross almost set-up Twigg only for Webster’s vital interception at the front stick. With assistant boss Keith Long banned and watching form the stands,
Eddie Gormley was joined in the dug-out by Wanderers' Director of Football Pat Devlin.
It wasn’t until the 21st minute that they forced a chance as Jake
Kelly blazed over from 22-yards. Then just before the half over, John Mulroy repeated that feet from a similar position.
But the Wicklow side should have been ahead in the 36th minute.
Despite claims for offside by the visitors, Shane O’Neill raced clear
form the right flank. He cut into the box and slide his low shot agonising just wide of the far upright.
Right on the stroke of half time. North Ireland stopper Alan Mannus produced a wonderful fingertip save top to push out Mulroy’s bullet 16-yard volley.
Bray Wanderers: 1 Brian Kane; 2 Shane O’Connor 4 Derek Prendergast, 5 Dave Webster, 3 Daire Doyle (17 Adam O’Connor 80 mins); 8 Stephen Brennan; 7 John Mulroy, 6 Chris Shields, 8 Stephen Brennan, 10 James Kavanagh (16 Dean Zambra 88 mins), 11 Jake Kelly; 9 Shane O’Neill.
Subs not used: 12 Colm Tresson, 14 Dylan Vickers, 15 Nicky Byrne
Shamrock Rovers: 1 Alan Mannus; 8 James Chambers, 4 Craig Sives, 24, Dan Murray, 19 Danny Murphy; 15 Paddy Kavanagh (23 Thomas Stewart 79 mins), 22 Robert Bayly (6 Stephen Rice 88 mins), 18 Chris Turner, 17 Sean O’Connor (20 Billy Dennehy 66 mins); 9 Gary Twigg, 10 Dessie Baker.
Subs not used: 5 Aidan Price, 16 Robert Duggan
Referee: Tom Connolly (Dublin)