by Shane Callaghan
Drogheda United ended a run of six successive SSE Airtricity League defeats by beating 10-man Bray Wanderers 3-1 at the Carlisle Grounds tonight.
First-half goals from Gavin Brennan and Gavan Holohan, either side of a Jake Kelly equaliser, gave the visitors a slender, yet deserved lead at the break.
However, a red card for Alan Mitchell on 60 minutes altered the complexion of the encounter, and Cathal Brady pounced in the closing stages as Drogheda stopped the rot to give caretaker boss Darius Kierans his first victory since replacing Robbie Horgan last month.
Last week’s narrow 2-1 defeat to Sligo Rovers saw the Boynesiders display promising signs of a resurgence in Kierans’ first game at the helm.
And it took some three minutes to build on that promise tonight as Brennan fired past Stephen McGuinness to open the scoring and give Drogheda an ideal start.
The advantage proved relatively shortlived, however, as Kelly floated a free kick past goalkeeper Micheál Schlingermann 15 minutes later to restore parity.
United, who had conceded some 27 goals throughout that six-game losing streak, refused to panic over being pegged back and saw their composure rewarded nine minutes before the break as Holohan embarked on a mazy solo run and slotted past McGuiness.
Things went from bad to worse for Alan Mathews’ side on the hour mark as referee Robert Harvey issued Mitchell with a second yellow card for a challenge on Holohan.
Kierans’ side initially struggled to capitalise on their numerical advantage and put Wanderers to the sword, with Gary O’Neill spurning a good opportunity by firing over the bar from inside the area.
Unperturbed by the miss, United continued in the same vein and Brady was on hand in the dying stages to kill off any hopes of a late equaliser and seal Drogheda’s second victory from their last 12 league outings.
by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United will be looking to leapfrog Bray Wanderers in the league table when the two sides meet at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night, kickoff 7.45pm.
United currently trail the Seasiders by two points in tenth position having played a game more but will be encouraged by their performance in the defeat to Sligo Rovers last week.
Goals from Danny North and Kieran Djilali had given the Bit o’Red a two goal lead but Drogheda pulled one back through Gavin Brennan’s penalty and were then forced to play the entire second half with ten men following Paul Andrews’ dismissal.
Speaking about the defeat, Drogheda caretaker manager Darius Kierans acknowledged that the better side won on the night.
“I thought we showed a lot of character in the Sligo match and considering recent results, to play like that against one of the better teams in the league was encouraging. Sligo deserved to win, there is no point in disputing that but I felt we worked really hard with ten men and maybe could have robbed a draw. Had we kept eleven men on the pitch, it would have given us more options off the bench such as Gary O’Neill but the referee’s decision is final and we had to accept that.”
Andrews will be suspended for tomorrow night’s clash with Ciaran McGuigan the only injury doubt for an otherwise full strength United side. New signing Peter McGlynn should be available to make his debut depending on international clearance and Kierans is excited about the new addition.
“Peter has been training with us for a few months now and I’m confident that he will be a good player for the club. He is capable of playing at right back and on the wing so he will add to the options we have.”
Bray will be hoping that new signings Joe Gorman and Gareth McDonagh will be given international clearance in time to face the Drogs. Gorman is returning to Ireland having been released by Inverness Caley Thistle while McDonagh was let go by Celtic as Alan Matthews tries to offset the news of Danny O’Connor’s recent retirement.
The Seagulls ended Drogheda’s undefeated start to the season with a 2-0 victory back in April and Kierans is weary of the challenge that Wanderers will represent.
“I’ve watched Bray on a number of occasions this season and they are a good side with a lot of young players. Alan Matthews has done extremely well with them this year and they ran St. Pat’s very close last week. Alan usually has his side’s very hard to beat and they have some match winners with the likes of Jake Kelly and David Cassidy who we know well from his time with Drogheda.”
Jake Kelly 18’
Gavin Brennan 3’
Gavan Holohan 36’
Cathal Brady 90’ + 1’
Shane O’Connor – Yellow Card 1’
Adam Mitchell – Yellow Card 45’
Adam Mitchell – Yellow Card 60’
Adam Mitchell – Red Card 60’