by Robert O'Reilly
Bray Wanderers recorded only their second win of the season as they comfortably defeated Drogheda United 2-0 at United Park.
After a scoreless opening half, Bray struck twice in three minutes through David Scully and Shane O’Neill to end Drogheda’s undefeated start to the campaign.
David Cassidy, playing against his former club, had the first chance of the game on ten minutes as he sent a stinging effort from 25-yards narrowly wide of David Ryan’s goal.
Drogheda responded with two chances in quick succession as a free kick from Eric Foley was pushed behind by Stephen McGuinness and from the resulting corner Gavin Brennan failed to keep his header on target.
The home side remained in the ascendancy for the majority of the first half as they squandered several chances to take the lead.
On 25 minutes, Carl Walshe cut inside from the right wing but his powerful effort from the edge of the box went over the bar and then Declan O’Brien saw his shot blocked on the line with Daire Doyle firing over from the rebound.
The Seagulls almost caught United cold on the stroke of half time as a counter-attack resulted in Ishahil Akinade picking out the run of David Scully but the striker’s effort was saved by Ryan.
Bray started the second half in determined fashioned and they should have broken the deadlock on 50 minutes. Akinade outmuscled Alan McNally and the striker teed up Cassidy but the midfielder’s attempted chip was over hit.
The visitors didn’t have to wait long after to open the scoring. A corner kick from the right was dropped by Ryan in the crowded penalty area which left Scully with the simple task of hooking the ball into the empty net.
Bray stunned Drogheda three minutes later as O’Neill raced clear from the halfway line before cutting inside the recovering defender and firing into the top corner of the net from just inside the box to double their advantage.
United created nothing of note in the remainder of the game as the Seagulls missed several chances to further enhance their lead.
Akinade was denied twice late on by Ryan when put through clean on goal while midfielder Dean Zambra saw his long distance effort bounce narrowly wide of the far post.
An impressive performance from Bray sees them rise to eight in the table while Drogheda will look to keep touch with the early leaders as they travel to Cork City next Friday.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will be aiming to continue their excellent start to the season as they face Bray Wanderers on Friday at United Park, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Drogs maintained their undefeated streak as they drew 1-1 away to Sligo Rovers but the result came at a price, as midfielder Austin McCann will miss the remainder of the campaign with a broken leg.
Michéal Schlingermann remains a fortnight away from a return to action while Paul Crowley may be fit enough to take a place on the bench.
Drogheda are currently in fourth place in the league but if results go their way they can finish the night on top of the table.
As for Bray, Alan Mathews’ side tasted defeat at the hands of reigning champions St. Patrick’s Athletic on Monday, losing 1-3.
The result leaves the Seagulls in ninth position in the table with only five points from the opening six games.
Despite Bray’s rocky start to the campaign, Drogheda manager Robbie Horgan maintains that Wanderers will pose a difficult challenge for his Drogheda side.
“I watched Bray lose 5-1 against Bohemians during preseason and I felt they were a side lacking organisation. Since then, I think they have progressed well with some impressive results, a win against Sligo in particular. Alan Mathews has been able to change his team around based on the opposition, which is always important. They are going to be tough opponents for us.”
Following the game against Bray on Friday, Drogheda’s next three matches are against Cork City, St. Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers. Despite this, Horgan is remaining focused on the task at hand.
“We may have some difficult games coming up but we try not to think too far ahead. If we do that then we might slip up on Friday so realistically the next game is always our biggest concern.”
Horgan reserved special praise for striker Gary O’Neill, who was voted the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month for March.
“Gary has been immense for us so far this season. When we signed Gary, I’m sure people thought that he was going to be a good member of the squad under the circumstances. However, he has played every minute of every game. He does what Gary O’Neill does best and that is playing the number ten position and he has created a lot of chances for Declan O’Brien and others. I’d like to rest him at some stage but with the form that he is in, I have no reason to do it.”
Daire Doyle (Stephen Maher 59’)
Eric Foley (Gavan Holohan 70’)
Gary O’Neill (Philly Hughes 76’)
Graham Kelly (Gary Curran 85’)
Shane O’Neill (Michael Brown 90’)
David Scully 54’
Shane O’Neill 58’
Gavin Brennan 73’
Dean Zambra (yellow) 43’
David Scully (yellow) 57’
David Webster (yellow) 62’