Hoops lose ground despite exciting draw

Shamrock Rovers salvaged a draw from a late Gary Twigg strike to earn a hard fought point at Bray’s Carlisle Grounds.

Wanderers have been a real bogey side for Shams in recent seasons and that looked set to continue as home midfielder Kevin Murray had given his side a 2-0 lead inside 37 minutes.

There were plenty chances for both sides as first Bray’s Dane Massey had an angled shot just wide of target before the champion’s Billy Dennehy had a long range effort from the left fly fractionally wide of the far post.

The Seagulls then had two good chances to take the lead when first John Mulroy danced past two defenders before firing narrowly wide.  Waters then forced a fine save from Oscar Jansson with the Swedish ‘keeper getting down very well to claw the effort off his goal-line.

Waters was to make no mistake on 16 minutes when he smashed home an effort from 15 yards out after good build-up play between Massey and the League of Ireland’s all-time leading goalscorer; Jason Byrne.

Twigg nearly equalized on the half-hour as he sent a close range header goalwards but Bray ‘keeper Quigley managed to keep it out following Gary McCabe’s excellent cross.

Waters was once again on target on 37 minutes with a sumptuous solo effort. He received the ball on the left from a Massey throw-in before rounding Rover’s defenders Conor McCormack and Craig Sieves and slamming the ball past Jansson from ten yards.

The 2010 and ’11 league champions had a chance to get back into the game when Pierce Sweeney was wrongly adjudged to have fouled Twigg inside the box with the game having ticked into stoppage time at the end of the first-half.  The Scot got up to tuck home the resultant spot-kick eventhough it should never have been awarded.

The drama was to continue however as the the goal did not stand because fourth official Richie Winter had called referee Paul McLaughlin to the dug-out and this ended up with Bray coach Keith Long being ordered off.

Twigg re-took the penalty, which was well saved by Quigley before Dennehy pounced to smash home the rebound.  Much to the chagrin of the travelling Rovers’ fans; this goal was also disallowed.   Offside being the decision this time.  Home fans will have felt justice was served.

The Dublin outfit did get themselves on the scoresheet midway through the second-half as Ronan Finn was put through on goal by Daryl Kavanagh and the former proceeded to finish past the advancing Quigley.

Kavanagh also provided the assist for Rovers’ equalizer as he sent Twigg through with last season’s league leading scorer proceeded to dribble 15 yards through the home defence before finishing with aplomb past Quigley.

With Sligo Rovers winning in Cork, this result means that Shams have gone three points adrift of the league leaders from Connacht.  Bray meanwhile are now level with bottom placed Monaghan United, but if they maintain the levels of performance shown against Rovers, the Seagulls should have every chance of pulling clear of the drop.

BRAY WANDERERS (4-5-1): Quigley; Webster, O’Connor, Massey, Sweeney; Waters, Knight (Mitchell 83), Zambra, Mulroy, Hanlon; Byrne (Doyle 88).

SHAMROCK ROVERS (4-4-2): Jansson; McCormack, Sives, Oman, Powell (Greene 79); McCabe, Turner, Finn, Dennehy; Twigg, O’Neill (Kavanagh 64).


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