Both UCD and Bray Wanderes struggled for large parts as they shared an uninspired goalless draw in their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division encounter at Belfield earlier this evening.

The first half was a forgettable affair with Samir Belhout spurning the best chance as he shot wide from twelve yards with just Stephen McGuinness to beat.

Matters hardly improved after the break although both Mark Langtry and Adam Hanlon forced fine saves from Stephen McGuiness and Conor O’Donnell respectively as the students finished the tie with ten men following Hugh Douglas’ late dismissal.  

The hosts, who suffered a disappointing reverse at the hands of Athlone Town last Friday evening, showed visible signs of nerves in the early stages as they were guilty of a phalanx of misplaced passes.

Despite that, they should have opened the scoring in the eighth minute as Robbie Creevy played a delightful through ball behind the Bray defence but Samir Belhout was found wanting as he dragged an unconvincing effort wide from 12 yards.

The visitors appeared shaken by that let-off and further hesitant defending after 15 minutes saw Michael Barker volley narrowly wide from just inside the area as Wanderers struggled to clear a Chris Mulhall delivery.

A lull ensued with Bray gradually beginning to offer some attacking intent with most of their good work emanating from the intelligent promptings of David Cassidy.

A lack of incisiveness punctuated their play however and it took a half hour before they unleashed a shot in anger with Graham Kelly’s speculative attempt lacking sufficient accuracy to trouble Conor O’Donnell in the home goal.

They were far closer in the 34th minute as Cassidy found acres of space at the back post but his well-struck half-volley flashed narrowly wide after Jamie McGlynn had delivered an exceptional cross from the left flank.

The half regressed from that point with both sides’ inability from set-pieces reflecting their respective lack of confidence as the half ended in an almost inevitable stalemate.

The contest resumed with the hosts on the front foot with the assistant referee’s flag sparing the blushes of Hugh Douglas as he headed a Mulhall free-kick straight at McGuinness when unmarked in the 52nd minute.

At the opposite end, Adam Hanlon should have done better as he flicked Kelly’s cross well wide when under minimal pressure as both sides seemed determined to hold what they had in an uninspiring period.

In an increasingly fractious encounter, both Mulhall and Kelly were cautioned after a needless coming together while Douglas joined them in the book after a robust challenge on Dean Zambra.  

It was as late as the 73rd minute when either goalkeeper was truly tested as McGuinness dived athletically to his left to pluck out Mark Langtry’s floating header from a Robbie Benson free-kick.         

The visitors introduced Jake Kelly with ten minutes remaining and the former St Patrick’s Athletic player almost made an instant impact with a fierce drive in the 81st minute that O’Donnell diverted away to safety.

Douglas’ dismissal in injury-time offered Bray one final chance but O’Donnell was equal to a shot on the turn by Hanlon with neither side impressing enough to take the precious three points on offer.              

UCD: Conor O’Donnell; Gareth Matthews, Hugh Douglas, James Kavanagh (Ian Ryan, 54), Mark Langtry; Michael Barker (Cillian Morrison, 79) Robbie Benson, Barry McCabe, Robbie Creevy, Chris Mulhall; Samir Belhout.

Subs not used: Niall Corbet (GK), Michael Scott, Thomas O’Halloran, Dwayne Wilson, Gary Burke.

Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness; Eric McGill, Niall Cooney, Dave Webster, Robert Moloney; Adam Hanlon, Dean Zambra, David Cassidy, Graham Kelly, Jamie McGlynn (Jake Kelly, 79); Ciaran Byrne (Ismahil Akinade, 62).  

Subs not used: Shane Redmond (GK), Shane Byrne, Shane O’Connor, Michael Brown.  

Attendance: 256