KILKENNY CITY 2 - 2 BRAY WANDERERS
23 December 2000
This report was first published in the Bray People, 27 December 2000
by Paul Dowling
A goalkeeping blunder by Eddie van Boxtel four minutes from time denied Bray Wanderers their first Eircom Premier Division away success in over two months.
Having dominated the first 45 minutes and never really looking in trouble, the Seasiders were pegged back by a dogged Kilkenny City side at Buckley Park (December 23rd).
Despite extending their unbeaten run to ten games, manager Pat Devlin felt it was no consolation for losing two points they should have won.
In truth, it was a game the visitors should have won. Played on a pancake of a pitch against what is clearly the worst side in the top flight, the Green and Whites were two up inside the opening half hour. They held that advantage with less than 29 minutes remaining.
Even after conceding the Cats' first effort, Eddie Gormley missed a penalty which would surely have sealed the points.
'It was over if we had converted the penalty' barked Devlin afterwards. 'I told them at half time you can't let them score. You can't let them into the game. The two goals were terrible from our point of view'.
Wanderers got off to the perfect start when on-loan striker Paul Keegan claimed his fifth goal in his last seven starts.
Just like the win against Bohemians, a tenth minute set piece did the trick. Gormley swung over a right flank corner and Keegan powered a front post header to the roof of the net.
Eighteen minutes later and number two duly arrived as Bray bossed the tie. A booming free from his own half by van Boxtel saw Keegan combine well with Matt Britton.
The striker turned provider by picking out Barry O'Connor with his cross and last season's top scorer volleyed into the far corner from ten yards past Matt Nelson.
With what was a rare attack forward, City pulled one back in the 62nd minute. Bray gave away possession from a throw in their own half on the left. Gordon Johnston fed Derek McGrath who slipped Carlos Rocha in behind Jody Lynch and the Portuguese forward awkwardly bundled his effort over the line in off the far upright.
Four minutes later, the away outfit had the chance to claim victory. In a move involving van Boxtel and Gormley, Jason Byrne turned to release the breaking Colm Tresson. The current player of the year got to the ball ahead of Nelson only to be hauled down by the netminder. Referee Aidan O'Regan pointed to the spot but Gormley smacked his 12 yard attempt off the bar.
With time running out, Bray appeared to be hanging on. But a couple of dropped crosses by van Boxtel unsettled the nerves. It proved crucially to be third time unlucky.
Richie Purdy delivered a deep ball into the 18 yard box. The keeper seemingly just had to catch it. But he flapped and the grateful Paul McReavey accepted the opportunity by firing into the roof of the net.
Yet, the travelling faithful could have gone home happy. In the first minute of injury time, Gormley whipped over a telling centre which Keegan met eight yards out with a smashing header but the ball crashed off the crossbar with Nelson rooted to the ground.
BRAY MAN OF THE MATCH: Paul Keegan. Led the line superbly.
Bray Wanderers: Eddie van Boxtel 6, Colm Tresson 6, Maurice Farrell 6, Jody Lynch 7, Wesley Charles 6, Eddie Gormley 6, Barry O'Connor 6, Matt Britton 6, Paul Keegan 8, Jason Byrne 6, Philip Keogh 6.
Subs: Gary Dempsey, Gary Smith, Mick Doohan, Stephen Gifford, John Walsh (all not used).
Copyright © Paul Dowling 2000; no reproduction without the author's permission