Drogheda United FC

23 March 2012

Carlisle Grounds

Bray Wanderers 2-4 Drogheda United

Match Report by Ciaran D'Arcy

Three second-half goals in 11 minutes ensured that Drogheda returned from the Carlisle Grounds with maximum points on Friday night.

Brian Gannon and Dean Marshall were brought into midfield in what was a largely unchanged starting lineup from last week’s Louth derby, and both were to have a telling impact on the game.

The visitors stormed into an early lead, Marshall taking all of 32 seconds to nod his side in front. Jason Byrne wound back the clock to draw the Seagulls level on 51, but Gannon’s goal on 62 swung the tie back in the Drogs’ favour. Dean Massey’s sending off for a malicious stamp on goalscorer Gannon proved a pivotal turning point, and Drogheda disappeared out of sight with goals from substitutes Sean Brennan and Declan O’Brien on 70 and 73 respectively. A Dean Zambra free kick added a bit of gloss for Bray, but Mick Cooke’s charges were well worth the win in truth.

Lightning Start

The referee had barely blown the first whistle when Bray found themselves behind. Great work from Tiarnán Mulvenna down the right saw him tease a ball into the far post, where Dean Marshall rose highest to nod it past the stranded Darren Quigley for the quickest goal so far this season.

This set the tone for a scintillating encounter, and Bray registered their first effort just a minute later, Dane Massey rising highest to power a header above Gabriel Sava’s crossbar.

The teams exchanged various harmless efforts over a half hour period which was punctuated by sloppy passing, but the game sprang into life once again when yet another stray pass in the Bray defence allowed Gavin Brennan a free run at goal. Quigley was alert to the danger, and thundered off his line to dispossess the winger with a full blooded challenge.

Floodgates Open

An understated end to the first half was immediately banished from the memory by an explosive second period.

And it was Pat Devlin’s men who struck first blood on 51. A slaloming run from Kieran Marty Waters almost resulted in him being bundled over by Alan McNally. However the referee waved play on, and Waters’ honesty was rewarded as he picked out Byrne on the penalty spot, who calmly slotted home his 181st league goal to level matters.

Parity lasted all of 11 minutes before the Drogs reassumed control. A combination of defensive dallying and fantastic interplay between Shane Grimes and Peter Hynes sent Brian Gannon racing through, and he finished emphatically past the Bray custodian into the corner of the net.

Three minutes later, a disgraceful stamp on Gannon by Massey saw him receive a richly deserved red card from referee Pádraig Sutton.

From there the unrelenting Claret and Blue assault on the Seagulls’ goal continued, and the Boynesiders capitalised on their man advantage on 70 through Sean Brennan. Having come on just four minutes earlier, a tremendous jinking run from the striker saw him round Quigley with consummate ease. A last ditch challenge almost thwarted the big number 10, but he had the wherewithal to squeeze the ball over the line to make it three.

The insurance goal came just three minutes later. Fellow substitute and record goalscorer Declan O’Brien was sent through by Sean Brennan, and Fabio produced a nonchalant finish to effectively condemn Bray to defeat.

Bray did score a consolation on 78 through Zambra. With no immediate danger present, the midfielder whipped a wicked free kick into the Drogheda box which evaded everyone including Sava and nestled in the top right hand corner of the net.

Turning the Screw

But by then the damage was well and truly done. Drogheda could and probably should have pulled further ahead after Zambra’s goal.

After John Mulroy dribbled a harmless effort straight at Sava, Fabio spurned an inviting cross from Gavin Brennan, and could only direct his header high and wide with the goal at his mercy.

The fans’ favourite very nearly made up for his profligacy as the match ticked into added time. More good work from Gavin Brennan gifted the former Valletta striker possession. He then proceeded to skin the centre back, but Quigley was equal to his low drive.

Overall the win was thoroughly deserved, and maintains the Drogs 100% record on the road so far this season. The win sees Mick Cooke’s team move up to 5th in the table, but next week’s home game against Derry City will prove a much sterner test of United’s top six aspirations for this season.

As for Bray, they remain two places above the drop zone ahead of their trip to Cork next week.

Bray Wanderers:
1 Darren Quigley
2 David Webster
3 Dane Massey
5 Adam Mitchell (Doyle 45+4)
6 Danny O’Connor ©
10 Jason Byrne
11 Kieran Marty Waters
14 Graham Kelly (Last 45)
16 Dean Zambra
20 Sean Houston (Mulroy 73)
21 Adam Hanlon
Subs not used:
25 Brian Kane
4 Colm Tresson
12 Kevin Knight
17 Jonathan Kelty

1 Gabriel Sava
2 Stephen Quigley
4 Derek Prendergast
5 Alan McNally ©
8 Ryan Brennan (M. O’Brien 83)
9 Tiarnán Mulvane (S. Brennan 63)
11 Gavin Brennan
14 Dean Marshall
15 Peter Hynes (D. O’Brien 66)
12 Shane Grimes
17 Brian Gannon
Subs not used:
40 Shane Finnegan
3 Philip Hand
21 Johnny Breen
42 Conor O’Keefe

Bray 8
Drogheda 11

Bray 2
Drogheda 1

Yellow cards:
Bray 2 (Graham Kelly, Kieran Marty Waters)

Red cards:
Bray 1 (Dane Massey)

Pádraig Sutton

Droghedaunited.ie Man of the Match: Brian Gannon