Bray Wanderers 1-1 Shamrock Rovers
Bray Wanderers’ record-breaking run of not having conceded a goal in almost 10 hours of league football came to an end as Gary McCabe’s second-half penalty salvaged a point for an out-of-sorts Shamrock Rovers at the Carlisle Grounds.
Bray were looking for a sixth straight clean sheet and, not least, beat Rovers at home for the first time in five years.
While Rovers were unchanged from the side that beat Bohemians in the Dublin derby last time out, Bray made one switch with ex-Hoop Dean Kelly coming in for Andrew Lewis up front.
And it was one-time Hoops’ legend Harry Kenny’s in-form Wanderers who started the better, John Sullivan looping a header wide after Rovers failed to clear a long throw from Hugh Douglas inside three minutes.
Six minutes later, Dylan Connolly’s pace got him in behind the Rovers defence on the right to cross. Ryan Brennan just couldn't get on the end of it, injuring himself when colliding with a post in the process, which necessitated his substitution shortly afterwards.
Bray’s gameplan was further disrupted when they lost Kelly to injury on 23 minutes, though it scarcely mattered, as they deservedly took the lead two minutes later.
The tenacity of Connolly, who initially appeared to have been fouled, only to get the ball to Ger Pender, was crucial. His shot was blocked in turn, but the substitute managed to then set up Connolly from the rebound to tap the ball home for his first league goal of the season.
Rovers, who lost Killian Brennan to injury midway through the half, didn’t seriously threaten until the 43rd minute. Brandon Miele’s well-paced free kick from the right was flicked over the top off the head of Rob Cornwall.
With more about them from the resumption, Rovers nonetheless continued to struggle to test Peter Cherrie in the Bray goal.
Their persistence paid off, though, as they got a breakthrough on 73 minutes. Miele’s drive struck the hand of Bray skipper Conor Kenna with Anthony Buttimer hesitating briefly before pointing to the spot.
Substitute McCabe confidently sent Cherrie the wrong way from the spot, the first time the Bray keeper had been beaten in 593 minutes of football.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie; Hugh Douglas, Conor Kenna, Tim Clancy, Kevin Lynch; John Sullivan; Karl Moore, Ryan Brennan (Mark Salmon 15), Darragh Noone (Gareth McDonagh 76), Dylan Connolly; Dean Kelly (Ger Pender 23).
Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland; Simon Madden, Rob Cornwall, Sean Heaney, Gavin Brennan; Brandon Miele, Patrick Cregg, Killian Brennan (Gary McCabe 27), Dean Clarke; Aaron Dobbs (Sean Boyd 57), Gary Shaw (Trevor Clarke 75).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer (Cork).