Dundalk 0-0 Bray Wanderers
Chris Turner missed a penalty, Tiarnán Mulvenna and Alex Williams both smashed the woodwork and Williams had two goals ruled out for offside as Dundalk recorded their first home draw in 15 months and 26 games after failing to break Bray Wanderers’ resistance at Oriel Park on Tuesday night. Despite not playing to the level met in recent weeks, the Lilywhites created more than enough chances to win the game, although they could have been caught cold in the second half when Gary McCabe wasted possibly the best chance of the game. However, for the first time in one year and 40 matches Dundalk had to settle for a goalless scoreline.
The hosts were without Shaun Kelly (knee) and Ger Rowe (flu) while Thomas Heary and Michael Collins took their place on the bench. However, that did not appear to unsettle Sean Connor’s side in the opening exchanges and they should have taken the lead early on but Turner mis-cued in front of goal. Williams and Darren Mansaram then went close before the former had the ball in the net on 31 minutes, but his effort was rightly disallowed for offside. Next, it was Mulvenna’s turn but this time the post intervened, after a great run and chip from the 20-year-old. Then came Turner’s penalty miss as his effort was pushed wide by Chris O’Connor. After the break, it was a quieter affair, with the best chances falling to McCabe, who blazed over, and Williams, whose shot was deflected on to the crossbar late on.
In a lively start to the game, Dundalk almost hit the front inside the opening 90 seconds when Mansaram supplied a fine through-ball to Turner, however, the club’s top scorer couldn’t find the target as he fired over from inside the area. Bray then took over in the possession stakes but they did little, a couple of powerful off-target shots their only threat to Peter Cherrie’s goal. Most of the clear-cut chances were falling to Dundalk and they almost took the lead midway through the half when Williams went close with a shot from the left side of area which whizzed past the far post.
Bray goalkeeper O’Connor then kept his team on level terms when he tipped a Mansaram header over the bar after the 24-year-old striker connected with Paul McAreavey’s corner. Just past the half-hour mark, the hosts had the ball in the net, however, Williams’ finish from a Mulvenna assist was ruled out for offside. Moments later, the Lilywhites again had Bray worried when Mulvenna cut through the visiting defence and chipped the ball delightfully over O’Connor. However, the youngster’s effort came back off the angle of crossbar and post as the Lilywhites sensed blood.
However, they were almost hit by a sucker-punch on 37 minutes when Bray created their best chance of the half. Gareth Coughlan delivered a corner into the area and Chris Deans rose highest but the former Dundalk defender couldn’t find the target as his header went narrowly wide of goal. It was a rare opening for the visitors and they were again lucky not to be behind when McAreavey broke through, but his toe-poke goalwards was cleared off the line. Then came the home side’s best chance of breaking the deadlock as they were awarded a penalty on the stroke of half-time following a foul on Mansaram from a corner. However, for the first time in six attempts in the league, Turner was unable to convert as O’Connor’s fine save saw Dundalk miss just their second penalty in two-and-a-half years.
The second half was slightly quieter as Dundalk struggled to make inroads in the Bray defence. And it was the visitors who went closest to breaking the deadlock when McCabe’s mazy run left him with just Cherrie to beat. However, from close range, the trick left-winger fired over. In driving rain, both sides struggled to create chances, with McAreavey’s overhead kick the hosts’ only sight of goal, his effort never threatening O’Connor. With nothing noteworthy happening, Dundalk created a late burst, and after Williams had another goal ruled out for offside, the Scottish striker thought he had scored when the ball fell kindly to him in the box but his effort was deflected off the crossbar and over, for what proved to be either side’s last chance of a winner. It’s the first time since 15 August last year that Dundalk drew 0-0, and on that occasion it was also against Bray (in the FAI Cup at the Carlisle Grounds), while it was way back on 20 May 2008 that they last drew at home, that deadlock coming against Longford Town.
DUNDALK FC (4-4-2): Peter Cherrie; Michael Coburn, Simon Kelly, Liam Burns, Michael McGowan; Michael Daly (Michael Collins 62), Chris Turner, Paul McAreavey, Tiarnán Mulvenna (Kevin McKinlay 77); Darren Mansaram, Alex Williams.Booked: P McAreavey (16), L Burns (45+2).Unused Subs: Chris Bennion (GK), Thomas Heary, James Creaney.
BRAY WANDERERS AFC (4-4-2): Chris O’Connor; Derek Pender, Dave Webster, Chris Deans, Daire Doyle; Gareth Coughlan (Dane Massey 62), Dave Mulcahy, Chris Shields, Gary McCabe; Shane O’Neill (John Mulroy 57), John Flood (Dave O’Neill 76).Booked: G Coughlan (40), G McCabe (85).Unused Subs: Brian Kane (GK), Ian McNeill.
Referee: Tom Connolly (Dublin).