By Glenn Mason
Graham Kelly missed a first-half penalty for Bray Wanderers as they were held to a scoreless draw by Derry City at Carlisle Grounds.
Kelly’s 40th-minute penalty struck the crossbar after Danny Ventre handled Ismahil Akinade’s cross in the box.
It was a game short on goalmouth action and when Bray did manage to hit the target they found Derry goalkeeper Ger Doherty in excellent form.
Both sides battled hard in a game that will only be remembered, if at all, for the glorious April sunshine at the north Wicklow venue.
The point leaves both sides in mid-table but several Derry fans expressed their disappointment with manager Roddy Collins at the final whistle.
Bray were unchanged from the team that won so impressively in Drogheda last week, while Mark Stewart replaced John Paul McGovern in the Derry line-up.
Bray enjoyed the better start and Derry were grateful to Doherty for keeping the game scoreless. Inside the first five minutes, the city stopper got down brilliantly to tip Kelly's deflected free-kick around the post.
Then on the quarter hour, he smothered Ismahil Akinade’s flick following a training ground corner-kick from Kelly.
Derry were disjointed in the opening half and did not help their cause with their poor distribution of the ball. Rory Patterson cut a lonely, frustrated figure up front.
Their sluggish start was summed up by a weak backpass from the normally solid Cliff Byrne. Doherty had to rush out to win a 50-50 challenge with Akinade.
The visitors were then caught sleeping by a quick free-kick from David Cassidy. Dave Webster nipped in unmarked but snatched at the volley and failed to hit the target.
Bray’s dominance forced Derry boss Collins into a tactical change as Shane McEleney replaced his brother Patrick on 33 minutes. Enda Curran was pushed further forward to join Patterson.
The home side were given the chance to take a lead into half-time when Ventre handled Akinade’s cross on 40 minutes. However, Kelly’s penalty smacked off the bar and bounced down in front of the line.
With Collins’s words no doubt ringing in their ears, Derry were shaper after the restart, but it was the home side who looked the more likely to break the deadlock.
Stephen McGuinness in the Bray goal had little to do until the final minute, except for tame efforts from Curran and Patterson.
At the other end, Kelly worked Doherty with a well-struck shot on the hour mark and the keeper had to push the ball over the bar.
Kelly and David Scully spurned other second-half chances for a winner but neither could break the deadlock.
Michael Duffy almost snatched an undeserved late winner for Derry. His shot was drilled towards the front post and McGuinness palmed the ball wide for a corner.
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness; Niall Cooney, Dave Webster, Adam Mitchell, Robert Maloney; Dean Zambra, Graham Kelly, Shane O’Neill (Adam Hanlon ‘82), Ismahil Akinade, David Cassidy, David Scully.
Subs not used: Shane Redmond, Michael Brown, Jamie McGlynn, Gary Curran, Eric McGill, Ciaran Byrne.
Derry City: Ger Doherty, Roddy Collins, Cliff Byrne, Aaron Barry, Dean Jarvis; Mark Stewart (John Paul McGovern ’62), Danny Ventre, Patrick McEleney(Shane McEleney ’32), Michael Duffy; Enda Curran (Tony McNamee ’72), Rory Patterson.
Sub not used: Ciaran Gallagher, Raymond Foy, Ryan Curran, David Elelbert.
Referee: Iwan Griffith (Wales).