Second Half Penalties Give Bray Win
Dundalk suffered their first home defeat of the season as they fell to Bray Wanderers on Good Friday night.
A brace of penalties from Gary McCabe as well as a Ryan Brennan strike were enough for the three points. Captain Stephen O’Donnell equalised for the champions but it wasn’t enough.
Dundalk dominated the opening stages but failed to create a chance of note until Conor Clifford’s shot from the edge of the area was straight at Peter Cherrie.
Gary Rogers almost caught his opposite number out with a long clearance however Cherrie managed to get back and recover.
Jamie McGrath had the first effort of note in the 20th minute as he took down Chris Shields’ long ball and turned superbly before forcing a good save from Cherrie.
Dane Massey then had a free-kick blocked by the wall after McEleney was fouled on the edge of the area before the Derry man nutmegged Clancy and curled an effort just over the bar from 20 yards.
At the other end Niclas Vemmelund came to the rescue as he cleared off the line after Brian Gartland’s header went goalwards from a Dylan Connolly corner.
Dundalk were the stronger side towards the end of the half as McEleney’s cross was headed back towards goal by Sean Hoare to McMillan however his header was straight at Cherrie.
McEleney then struck from the edge of the area after the ball broke to him but it was straight at Cherrie. Shields then tried his luck however it was over the bar from distance.
The Lilywhites had the first effort of the second half when McEleney fed Duffy on the left and he raced towards goal however his curling shot was just wide of the right hand post.
Bray gained the lead against the run of play when Aaron Greene ran through at O’Donnell and got around the skipper and he was adjudged to have fouled the winger despite the soft nature.
McCabe stepped up and fired to the right corner.
With the next attack it was almost 1-1 when McEleney rampaged on the right hand side and his cross on the run found McMillan but he headed over the crossbar on the stretch.
It was 1-1 moments later though as Dundalk got the goal they deserved. O’Donnell played a neat one-two with McMillan and continued his run before chipping over the on rushing Cherrie.
That finish looked to give the impetus to the hosts to go on and win the game however they fell behind in controversial circumstances in the 67th minute.
Shields appear to win the ball from Connolly however the referee gave a free-kick and from that kick Brennan fell to the floor with Jim McKell all too happy to point to the spot for a second time despite the shock in the ground.
McCabe stood up again and went the same direction to make it 2-1.
The champions had to go for it once more and when they piled forward they were caught on the break.
Connolly’s cross was cut out by Vemmelund but it went straight to Brennan on the edge of the area who volleyed past Rogers to the net.
That gave the visitors a cushion they were happy to use to their advantage and they forced Dundalk to shots from outside the area with O’Donnell coming closest when he dragged an effort wide.
That proved to be the final action of note as Dundalk lost their first home game in over 12 months.
DUNDALK: Gary Rogers; Niclas Vemmelund, Brian Gartland (capt), Sean Hoare, Dane Massey; Chris Shields, Conor Clifford (Stephen O’Donnell 46); Jamie McGrath (Steven Kinsella 74), Patrick McEleney, Michael Duffy (Thomas Stewart 83); David McMillan.
Substitutes not used: Paddy Barrett, John Mountney, Ciaran Kilduff, Gabriel Sava (GK)
Booked: Clifford (45), Shields (65) O’Donnell (66)
Sent off: None.
BRAY WANDERERS: Peter Cherrie; Keith Buckley, Tim Clancy (capt), Derek Foran, Jason Marks; Ryan Brennan (Darragh Noone 87), Gary McCabe, Mark Salmon, John Sullivan, Aaron Greene; Dylan Connolly (Anthony Flood 85).
Substitutes not used: Alan Kehoe, Ger Pender, Jamie Aherne, Lee Steacy (GK)
Booked: Sullivan (32), Foran (34) Salmon (36), McCabe (36)
Sent off: None.
Referee: Jim McKell.