First Division

Carlisle Grounds
03 Nov 2021

For a game which had so much potentially riding on it, the first leg of the First Division playoff was a subdued affair, so much so that there was an impression that neither team was prepared to risk too much attacking for fear of the counter.

Neither keeper had a save of any significance to make, and while both collected the ball well, they were never under serious pressure.

Galway posed a threat to Bray with interception after interception going forward, but couldn't seem to finish, and the home team when playing on the ground looked better than in some of their recent games.

Both sides gave early promise of a rivetting joust, Mikie Rowe shooting not too far over Brian Maher's crossbar, and at the other end Conor Kearns had llittle difficulty claiming a Brandon Kavanagh cross all within the opening two minutes.

A David Hurley free from the right was headed away by Ryan Graydon for the first corner of the evening, but the Galway No. 10 had little benefit from his flag-kick, Maher emerging from a crowd to catch single-handed.

A dubious Bray throw led to a Kavanagh volley even more narrowly over the bar, and the match started to settle down. Twelve minutes in, a free for the Tribesmen reached Stephen Walsh, who headed onto the roof of the Bray net, and a Kavanagh effort just after the quarter hour had little power and posed no problem for the keeper.

A nice-looking Bray attack was blunted by the award of a free out, but minutes later Joe Doyle found space for a speculative shot from distance, but couldn't find the target.

A Bray corner conceded more by accident than by design came weakly to Doyle, but he hadn't time to control, and fell in the process, but attention for him was followed by concern for Gary Shaw, who seemed to be favouring his left leg.

Just after the half hour, a Galway throw was fed foward for Conor O'Keeffe, whose deep cross found Ruairi Keating beyond the far post , and Maher had to be quick to stop the header.

O'Keeffe conceded the next corner, which was defended out for a throw, following which Conor Clifford had a shot from 22m which dipped towards the bar but not low enough.

The rest of the first period was marred by niggly fouls and frees, not to mention those which weren't blown up, following which Maurice Nugent glanced a threatening ball out over the end line, winning a Galway goal-kick for his effort.

In the opening seconds of the second half, a foul on Ryan Graydon deep in Galway's right-hand corner saw Kavanagh feed Daniel Jones at the end line, but the defender skewed his attempted cross well behind the goal.

Not as lively as the first period, it was several minutes before the next movement of any significance, when Maher skied a defensive kick at a long ball, any danger cleared by a free for a foul on Richie O'Farrell.

A Hurley cross took a touch on its way out behind, and McCormack's deadball fell loose, but Joe Gorman snatched his shot and drove it high into the night sky.

Shortly after the hour, Clifford conceded a free with a late challenge on Keating in a dangeous position, a central spot short of 22m out, but Rowe drove it straight to the Bray keeper.

Galway regained possession, and a long ball out of defence saw Waweru behind the Bray back line, and Maher, well off his line, was lucky that the striker lost concentration and over-ran the bounce, allowing the keeper to stick his foot out and release the ball for Clifford to take away.

Too many ambitious crosses both sides were played into space, and relatively easy to defend, but with a quarter of an hour to go, Graydon over-complicated his steps, losing possession and allowing Keating to gain a Galway corner which, following some substitutions, was taken by the skipper and claimd well in the air by the Bray keeper.

After a nice passage of play, Mark Byrne's cross was cleared away by Gorman for a Bray corner, and though possession changed a couple of times, it was the Seagulls who came forward again, and seemed the more determined for a time.

What looked to some of the travelling support like a penalty wound up as a caution for simulation for Galway substitute Padraic Cunningham and a free out, but despite another free well inside the visitors' territory Bray couldn't find the target and lost possession again.

Nice play by the home side in the remaining minutes failed to produce anything like a goal, and no action was taken when Graydon was pulled down some way off the ball.

It was the western manager who earned himself a booking for his reaction to the award of a free for a foul on Doyle deep in time added, the game ended scoreless, and Bray's promotion hopes now rest on an away leg which will see the Tribesmen supported by a large and vocal crowd.

Mícheál Ó hUanacháin

Bray Wanderers: 1 Brian Maher; 8 Mark Byrne , 4 Andrew Quinn, 5 Aaron Barry (c), 15 Daniel Jones; 6 Conor Clifford ; 14 Richie O'Farrell, 11 Brandon Kavanagh, 7 Ryan Graydon; 9 Joe Doyle, 10 Gary Shaw
Subs: 3 Dylan Barnett, 16 Darren Craven (for Shaw 72), 17 Luka Lovic (for Jones 56 inj), 19 Darragh Lynch, 20 Ryan Bowden, 22 Steven Kinsella, 25 Kian Clarke (gk), 28 Sam Verdon, 30 Jack Ross (gk)
Galway United: 16 Conor Kearns; 2 Conor O'Keeffe , 4 Gary Boylan, 32 Joe Gorman, 3 Stephen Walsh; 22 Conor McCormack (c); 6 Maurice Nugent, 10 David Hurley, 7 Ruairi Keating, 14 Mikie Rowe; 18 Wilson Waweru
Subs: 1 Luke Dennison (gk), 5 Killian Brouder, 8 Dean O'Shea, 9 Padraic Cunningham (for Waweru 76) , 11 Shane Doherty (for Boyle 76), 12 Christopher Horgan, 15 Carlton Ubaezuonu, 25 Alex Murphy, 20 Mikey Place
Referee: Gavin Colfer

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