Cian Murphy 5, 55

Darren Craven 84

Andrew Quinn 95+

First Division

Turners Cross
9 Jul 2021

Desperate defending
Pic Michael Duffy

The start every manager dreads, an early concession - and suspicions of a defensive error which undermines team morale from the outset.

And though the visitors had their share of the attacking action during the rest of the opening period, Bray keeper Brian Maher was the busier of the goalies, with former Seagull Dylan McGlade tormenting the defence.

When the same combination of Beineón O'Brien Whitmarsh and Cian Murphy doubled the home side's lead early in the second half, it looked to be game over, but Bray persisted and eventually Darren Craven, somewhat against the run of play, managed to finish a loose ball with some style.

And in the dying seconds, with controversy building up, Andrew Quinn saved a point for the Wicklowmen.

That it would be a lively struggle was clear from the opening minutes, when McGlade fouled Brandon Kavanagh, and Murphy raced for the Bray goal area, drawing Maher out wide to clear.

But some of the life was sucked out of the early stages when McGlade's free from the left sideline was only partially cleared by the head of Luka Lovic. Darragh Crowley got up to it and nodded on to O'Brien Whitmarsh who squared for Murphy to sidefoot past the Bray goalie from close range.

A minute or so later, Conor Clifford tried a speculative effort from distance, but it slid wide, while O'Brien Whitmarsh scuffed his own effort following a ball up the right from Crowley, and Maher had little trouble with it.

Clifford underhit a backpass on 12 minutes, but O'Brien Whitmarsh's shot bounced off the Bray keeper and out for a corner, following which Craven was unable to keep the ball in play, and a second corner produced incomplete clearances and a renewed Cork onslaught - but no goal.

Midway through the period, Craven had a half-chance denied by Mark McNulty batting it away, and Steven Beattie managed to do enough to deny Richie O'Farrell a clear shot from the rebound.

Dylan Barnett brought McNulty into play again with a snap shot from Craven's flick-on, and when a Clifford free for a foul by Cian Coleman on Kavanagh came back off the wall, it fell to Kavanagh, whose shot was narrowly wide.

With ten minutes more before the break, the referee dropped the ball for Bray after it struck him during play, and while Clifford looked around for a plan, O'Brien Whitmarsh nipped in, took the dead ball with him, raced forward and failing a splendid block by Andrew Quinn would undoubtedly have beaten Maher.

Quinn was again the saviour on 37 minutes when Barry slipped on the greasy turf, leaving Gordon Walker space to square for O'Brien Whitmarsh, but the Bray centre-half managed to spare his colleagues blushes when he got himself between the striker and the goal to block.

With time running down, Barnett brought a good save from McNulty, and Clifford's tackle to deny McGlade seemed perfect, only to draw a free from the referee. Maher rose brilliantly to touch McGlade's setpiece over the bar.

Once more in the goalmouth response to the flag-kick the Cork players claimed a handball, and once more the referee disagreed.

After the resumption the game took a little time to warm up, but nine minutes in Barnett threw himself in front of Maher to block a McGlade rocket, though the keeper seemed well-placed in any case.

However, the resulting corner was not well-dealt with by the Bray defence, and O'Brien Whitmarsh on the right was able to loft a ball just over Maher to Murphy, who headed unerringly into the net.

Despite the introduction of Bray's two new signings, Daniel Jones and Sam Verdon, at the hour, the game went a little flat for a time, Cork dominating possession and looking comfortably towards the three points.

But inside the final ten minutes things changed dramatically when a fairly unthreatening ball was being shepherded by Alec Byrne, when Craven nicked it off his toe and swung a shot into the goal over McNulty's head.

Beattie and Joe Doyle clashed near the sideline two minutes from time, But Referee Paul McLaughlin decided it was a no-fault incident. Cork tried a couple of times to use up some of the remaining minutes by playing into the corner, bit the game was still capable of turning on a sixpence, and it did.

Beattie launched a huge defensive header which reached the advancing Maher practically on the half-way line. Amid loud claims for a keeper's handball, he returned it to the fray, where eventually Aaron Barry's high ball into the area was headed up giving McNulty time to punch it away - but only as far as Quinn, who was just arriving in the area, had time to control and shot, reaching the net by way of the butt of the far post.

It was a stunning equaliser, and left Cork fans wondering where their three points had gone.

Mícheál Ó hUanacháin

Bray Wanderers:1 Brian Maher; 8 Mark Byrne , 4 Andrew Quinn , 5 Aaron Barry (c), 3 Dylan Barnett; 6 Conor Clifford ; 14 Richie O'Farrell, 16 Darren Craven , 11 Brandon Kavanagh , 17 Luka Lovic; 9 Joe Doyle
Subs: 10 Gary Shaw, 12 Dean O'Shea (for Barnett 74), 15 Daniel Jones (for O'Farrell 61), 18 Sean Callan, 22 Steven Kinsella, 23 Glen Hollywood, 24 Cian Maher, 25 Kian Clarke (gk), 28 Sam Verdon (for Lovic 61)
Cork City: 1 Mark McNulty; 25 Gordon Walker, 8 Cian Coleman, 28 Jonas Häkkinen, 10 Steven Beattie; 17 Darragh Crowley, 16 Alec Byrne, 6 Gearóid Morrissey (c), 7 Dylan McGlade; 24 Cian Murphy , 9 Beineón O'Brien Whitmarsh
Subs: 2 Uniss Kargbo (for Murphy 70), 3 Ronan Hurley (for McGlade 92+) , 13 David Harrington (gk), 15 Dale Holland, 21 Oran Crowe, 25 Joe O'Brien Whitmarsh, 26 Jamie Wynne, 27 Jack Walsh (for B O'Brien Whitmarsh 76), 31 Cathal Heffernan
Referee: Paul McLaughlin

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