Dundalk 2-3 Bray Wanderers
Robbie Doyle’s goal at the death condemned Dundalk to their first home defeat of the season as bottom-of-the-table Bray Wanderers stunned Ian Foster’s side at Oriel Park on Monday night. Dundalk led twice through Liam Burns and Johnny Breen but they were twice dragged level by substitute Jake Kelly, his second coming on the stroke of half-time to silence the home crowd. Dundalk tried desperately to regain the lead in the second half and they had goals by Neale Fenn and Tiarnán Mulvenna ruled out while the former cracked the crossbar with a fine long-range effort. However, Doyle stole the points in the first minute of added time with a neat finish from the edge of the box as he beat Peter Cherrie, who was outstanding on the night.
Foster was forced into a change to his starting XI for the first time this season as young striker Johnny Breen made his full debut for the club as he came in, in place of the injured JJ Melligan. Bray, who gave Dundalk plenty of problems on the opening day, again started well and they could have been ahead inside two minutes when ‘keeper Cherrie did well to hold John Mulroy’s 12-yard effort. However, within sixty seconds Dundalk were ahead. Gaynor’s corner from the right was floated into the six-yard box where Burns was on hand to head home at the near post. In a bright start by the hosts, they went in search of number two, and before the midway point of the half they could have found it through Tom Miller who made an incisive run only for his cross to the back post to go over the head of Gaynor, while pressure from Fahrudin Kuduzovic almost resulted in a doubler but the ball in the end went behind for a corner.
However, despite Dundalk’s dominance they were almost pegged back on 25 minutes when the ball broke to Dean Zambra on the right-hand side of the box and his well-hit shot had to be superbly tipped over by Cherrie, another wonderful save from the Scotland-native. Nine minutes later and the sides were level. Substitute Jake Kelly entered within seconds of Zambra’s chance and his pace caused problems in the home backline, Kelly adjudged to have been taken down by namesake Shaun Kelly. The young striker dusted himself down and stood up, sending Cherrie the wrong way. Dundalk responded like a good team should, though, and they were back in front on 41 minutes. Gaynor again worked his magic down the left and his cross was delicately directed past Brian Kane by Johnny Breen who marked his first start with a first ever senior goal for the club. With the last kick of the half, however, Bray equalised for the second time when Zambra fed Kelly who hammered the ball past Cherrie.
Dundalk started the second half brightly and Faz fed Fenn whose ball out to the left was met first-time by Gaynor on the edge of the box, his shot flashing wide of the far post. Dundalk struggled to create chances after that and they were almost behind for the first time in the game when Shaun Kelly’s back-pass was stumbled upon by Cherrie, with Jake Kelly’s mis-control only saving the hosts as the ball went harmlessly wide off the youngster. With 20 minutes remaining, the home side had a goal disallowed. Gaynor’s fierce cross from the left was diverted into the net by the hand of Fenn, with the linesman ruling it out and the referee dishing a yellow card out to the ex-Bohs striker for his troubles. With just under a quarter-of-an-hour remaining Bray twice should have been ahead. Firstly, Jake Kelly was denied by Cherrie from point-blank range before the Scottish ‘keeper produced two more heroic saves in a mad scramble inside the area which was eventually cleared by Dundalk, somehow.
On 81 minutes, Dundalk again had the ball in the net. Fenn’s dipping 25-yard shot came back off the bar and was hit home by substitute Tiarnán Mulvenna but the returning star was incorrectly denied a goal on his first appearance since October by the linesman’s flag with Mulvenna clearly onside when Fenn struck his shot. Dundalk were then stunned on 91 minutes when Kelly played in Doyle whose accurate shot found the bottom corner.
DUNDALK FC (4-3-3): Peter Cherrie; Shaun Kelly, Garry Breen, Liam Burns (Ciarán McGuigan 62), Wayne Hatswell; Tom Miller, Neale Fenn, Stephen Maher; Fahrudin Kuduzovic, Johnny Breen (Tiarnán Mulvenna 63), Ross Gaynor.
Goals: L Burns (3), J Breen (41).
Booked: N Fenn (70), T Miller (71), T Mulvenna (81), R Gaynor (84).
Unused Subs: Matt Gregg (GK), Michael Synnott, Nathan Murphy.
BRAY WANDERERS AFC (4-5-1): Brian Kane; Daire Doyle (Colm Tresson 45), Shane O’Connor, David Webster, Dane Massey; Dean Zambra (David O’Neill 92), Chris Shields, James Kavanagh, David Tyrell, Robbie Doyle; John Mulroy (Jake Kelly 26).
Goals: J Kelly (34 pen, 45+3), R Doyle (91).
Booked: J Kavanagh (62), S O’Connor (88).
Unused Subs: Carl Donnelly (GK), David O’Neill, Pablo Rodriguez.
Referee: Tom Connolly (Dublin).
Official Attendance: 1716.