Limerick FC 0-1 Bray Wanderers
DAVID Scully’s last-minute free kick brought some much-needed solace to managerless Bray Wanderers at Markets Field on Saturday evening, while leaving Limerick with a real mountain to climb now if they are to remain a Premier Division club for next season.
In an open contest which at times showed why both of these clubs have had difficult seasons, the game was poised for a goalless draw until the Bray substitute’s late intervention stole the points for his team, who were left to organise themselves in the absence of any management following the sudden departure of Trevor Croly over the non-payment of players.
Limerick withstood an early onslaught before getting a foothold on the game and they had a strong shout for a penalty after seven minutes when Sean Russell seemed to be pushed in the box, but referee Rob Harvey was not interested.
A mistake in possession from Alan McNally led to a chance for Shane Duggan, who shot straight at Peter Cherrie, and then Dean Clarke slipped a through ball to Ian Turner, but with only the goalkeeper to beat he fired wildly over.
Duggan went close on 27 minutes, dragging his shot narrowly wide after Cherrie fisted Shane Tracy’s cross to the Limerick captain. Bray were almost given the lead in fortuitous circumstances shortly afterwards when Gareth McDonagh’s fizzing cross was headed out for a corner by Robbie Williams, the ball just avoiding the Limerick net. From the resulting corner, Hugh Douglas’ header was stopped on the line.
The Seasiders again came close to going in front in the opening minute of the second half, Conor O’Donnell fumbling a shot but his defenders doing enough to get to the breaking ball ahead of the onrushing Chris Lyons.
Limerick then had another penalty claim waved away and Paul O’Conor sent a free header wide from a 50th-minute corner. A similar set piece a few minutes later from Sean Russell nearly went directly into the Bray net, Cherrie managing to palm it away to safety.
The home side should have opened the scoring in the 58th minute when Lee-J Lynch, who returned to the club this week, was denied one-on-one by Cherrie, who signed for Bray on Saturday despite the club supposedly being under transfer sanctions. From the next passage of play, Sean Harding picked up his second yellow card of the match to leave Limerick a man short for the final half an hour.
The Super Blues were screaming for a penalty once more on 66 minutes when Russell appeared to be dragged down, but again Harvey saw nothing untoward and duly copped no shortage of flak from disgruntled home supporters.
In the 73rd minute, Peter McGlynn was nearly put through by McDonagh, Paudie O’Connor managing to thwart the Bray midfielder who was initially named as a substitute but started the game following an injury to David Cassidy in the warm-up. Cassidy instead seemed to be directing his team’s operations from the touchline via mobile phone.
The Seasiders had the lion’s share of play after Harding’s dismissal but looked set to be frustrated until they won a cheap free kick from 20 yards in the 90th minute. Up stepped late substitute David Scully to fire it beyond O’Donnell and send the visitors back to Wicklow with all three points.
Limerick are now eight points adrift of Sligo Rovers at the foot of the table, having failed to win any of their 18 league matches thus far, and will have to do without the suspended Harding and Williams for the visit of Galway United next Saturday.
Limerick FC: O’Donnell; Harding, Price (O’Connor 56), Williams, Tracy; Duggan, O’Conor; Turner (Rainsford 70), Lynch, Russell; Clarke.
Bray Wanderers: Cherrie; Douglas, Cooney, McNally, Barker; McEvoy, Sullivan; McGlynn (Hanlon 78), Kelly, McDonagh (Scully 84); Lyons (Onwubiko 72).
Referee: Robert Harvey (Dublin).