SLIGO ROVERS 1-1 BRAY WANDERERS
Bray Wanderers sprung the surprise of the weekend in the Airtricity League Premier Division as they claimed a vital point against Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.
After a scoreless first half, the Seagulls opened the scoring courtesy of a Jason Byrne strike on 49 minutes before Alan Keane levelled proceedings with goal just after the hour mark.
Bray had to play out the closing stages with ten men after defender Adam Mitchell was dismissed for a second yellow card.
Rovers welcomed back Alan Keane from suspension, while Jason McGuinness failed to recover from a hamstring injury which he picked up in a recent EA Sports Cup clash with Derry City.
New signings Seamus Conneely and Jeff Henderson took their places on the bench, while fellow recent arrival Ryan Connolly was unavailable for selection.
Bray travelled to the northwest without Dave Webster who continues to struggle with a knee injury, while Sean Houston served a one match ban.
Kevin O'Connor, recently signed from Worcester City, made his first appearance for the Seagulls, with fellow new signing Brendan King, a former trialist at the Showgrounds, making his first appearance on the Bray bench.
The home side started the brighter, although Bray did have what seemed to be a genuine claim for a spot kick turned down with three minutes played.
Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters, who impressed throughout, was brought down by Joesph Ndo at the edge of the Sligo area, but referee Graham Kelly waved play on.
Sligo found the best of their early opportunities through set pieces and the league's top scorer Danny North almost put Ian Baraclough's side in front on 13 minutes.
Ndo's corner found North at the edge of the area, but the former Pat's striker's header looped narrowly over Darren Quigley's crossbar.
Ross Gaynor's shot from 20 yards on 20 minutes was easily held by Quigely, seconds before Raf Cretaro should have sent Romuald Boco through on goal. Instead, the former Bohemians man attempted to thread the ball through for North who was also bearing down on goal, but in an offside position.
Pat Devlin's side had their first clear sight at goal with a quarter of an hour played.
Jason Byrne beat Ndo to ball in front of goal, but his shot was deflected away by the feet of Rovers keeper Gary Rogers.
Sligo then went on a quick counter with Cretaro shaking off his marker inside the Bray area. His angled shot deflected off the Wanderers' upright to the disappointment of the majority of the 1,778 in attendance.
Bray nearly took an unlikely lead on 28 minutes, when John Mulroy's cross was almost deflected in by Danny Ventre, the former Accrington Stanley man happy to see his clearance sneak the right side of his own goal.
Gavin Peers thought he had put the home side in front on the 32nd minute when he met an Ndo corner with his head in front of goal, however, John Mulroy was on duty at the back post to clear the ball off the line.
Bray took the lead four minutes into the second half when Byrne made the most of an Iarfhlaith Davoren mis-kick.
Byrne's low drive from ten yards struck the bottom of Rogers' post before going into the Rovers net.
Sligo boss Baraclough then introduced Pascal Millien and Mark Quigley to his attack and this change bore fruit on 63 minutes when Quigley found Keane down the right.
The former Galway man shrugged off the attention of a Bray defender and squeezed the ball between the keeper and his front post to level the game.
Sligo pushed for a winner and despite North losing his marker at the back post with two minutes left, the former Grimsby Town man couldn't get on the end of a low Millien cross.
But Wanderers held on for the point, despite having to see the game out without Mitchell who was sent off for a second bookable offence in the closing minutes.
Sligo Rovers: Gary Rogers; Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Danny Ventre (C), Iarfhlaith Davoren; Romuald Boco, Joseph Ndo, David Cawley, Ross Gaynor; Raffaele Cretaro, Danny North.
Subs: Ciaran Kelly, Jeff Henderson, Seamus Conneely (for Ndo 79'), Lee Lynch, John Dillon, Mark Quigley (for Cretaro 60'), Pascal Millien (for Gaynor 60').
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; Dane Massey, Adam Mitchell, Danny O'Connor (C), Adam Hanlon; Kevin O'Connor, Kieran Marty Waters, Shane O'Connor. Dean Zambra, John Mulroy; Jason Byrne.
Subs: Daire Doyle (for Hanlon 73'), Kevin Knight (for Waters 77'), Graham Kelly, Pat Seery, Brendan King, Brian Kane, Conor Butler.