By Robert O’Reilly
Drogheda United suffered a second defeat in four days as they lost 2-1 to Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds.
Bray raced into a two goal lead courtesy of strikes from Aaron Greene and Dylan Connolly before Ciaran McGuigan halved the deficit though Drogheda’s comeback effectively ended with Luke Gallagher’s second-half dismissal.
Drogheda boss Pete Mahon made six changes from the side that lost 4-1 to Cork City on Friday as Conor Kane, Sean Brennan, Ryan McEvoy, Adam Wixted, Gareth McCaffrey and Marc Griffin all came into the starting XI.
The visitors were unfortunate not to take the lead on three minutes as McCaffrey’s free-kick was parried by Pete Cherrie with Jake Hyland capitalising on the error but his goal bound strike was hooked off the line by Conor Kenna.
From the next attack, Bray opened the scoring. Greene cut inside from the right flank and sent a low driven strike beyond the reach of Drogheda goalkeeper Stephen McGuinness.
A bad start was to get worse for Drogheda as they fell further behind on 20 minutes. Bray pounced on a loose ball out of defence and Greene picked out the run of Connolly who lifted the ball over the advancing McGuinness to leave United with an uphill task.
Drogheda grabbed a lifeline only two minutes later as Griffin’s corner found McGuigan at the back post and he saw off the challenge of Flood before firing a half-volley into the roof of the net.
The Boynesiders finished the half strongly as Griffin had an effort blocked before Sean Brennan’s flicked header floated wide of the far corner and they pushed forward again for the equaliser after the interval.
Griffin’s curling free-kick from 25-yards bounced harmlessly wide though Cherrie was called into action when McCaffrey beat Kevin Lynch for pace before seeing his low strike turned behind for a corner.
Drogheda’s comeback was dealt a major blow on 64 minutes when captain Luke Gallagher was dismissed for a second bookable offence having halted the run of Connolly.
The close Drogheda came to parity was with ten minutes remaining as Griffin’s corner was met by the near post run of Thomas Byrne but the forward’s effort was stopped by Cherrie with Bray grateful to clear the loose ball.
Bray should’ve sealed victory in stoppage time as a swift counter-attack released Connolly through on goal but having attempted to round McGuinness, the keeper made a fine save to keep the score at 2-1.
A frustrating evening for the Drogs who once again paid for a slow start and they now travel to high-flying Derry City on Saturday afternoon.
Ryan Robinson (Conor Earley 65)
Keith Buckley (Mark Salmon 69)
Gary McCabe (Ryan Brennan 79)
Sean Brennan (Sean Thornton 74)
Gareth McCaffrey (Thomas Byrne 71)
Adam Wixted (Lloyd Buckley 65)
Aaron Greene 3’
Dylan Connolly 20’
Ciaran McGuigan 22’