View Full Version : BRAY WANDERERS 2-1 ATHLONE TOWN Match Report

27/04/2004, 12:18 PM

Grogan 21 McCann 89
Flood 39 Silke s/o 76

First Division

Carlisle Grounds
23 April 2004

If it seems fanciful six games into a 33-match season to speak of 'must-win' fixtures, it also says something about Bray's attitude - both team and supporters - to the League this year. Although last weekend's round of games left the Seagulls sitting fifth in the table, the fact that they were behind Athlone left no room for complacency.

So once again, from Kieran 'Tarzan' O'Brien's kick-off, it was straight into the attack. If that was all that was needed, we got 90 minutes of it ... or 80, anyway. But the visitors were also fired up, and gave as good as they got.

Inside two minutes, the home team were in a position to make progress, O'Brien's work on the left creating an opening with a fine cross to Kevin Grogan, whose shot keeper Graeme Loughman took well.

Once again, Colm Tresson had been moved forward to midfield, with Stephen Gifford filling the right-back role.

Early in the game, a touch of rancour crept into the proceedings, with Jody Lynch cautioned for his challenge on Graham O'Keeffe, and Damien Hancock's yellow card was to see plenty of action before the final whistle.

From the second of two frees inside the eighth minute, Eddie Gormley curled a wide cross-field kick to John Flood, whose attempt at goal went wide of the far post.

Bray at this stage were playing the better football, some of it very classy indeed, and O'Brien was unlucky to be given off-side after good work in the back and a fine cross from Maurice Farrell, who was being given a torrid time by Steve Gavin.

Grogan had a headed effort well taken by Loughman, while at the other end, Chris O'Connor was displaying more confidence in dealing with backpasses, especially those with a bit of pace.

A well-worked attack by Athlone twenty minutes in began with an error by Ciaran Ryan, and looked threatening until it fizzled out in an error by the visitors. And from Maurice Farrell's clearance of an Athlone free, O'Brien powered the ball so far upfield both defence and attack were almost caught napping - apart from Grogan and John Flood, who had switched places with the veteran. His cross met the advancing Grogan who made no mistake this time.

Athlone almost levelled matters within five minutes, Adrian Murphy's long-range attempt shaving O'Connor's crossbar - and a corner given despite the keeper having failed to get to the ball.

Another defensive error, this time by Graham O'Hanlon, let Gavin through, but his cross - if it wasn't an attempt on goal - was well off target. Nevertheless, the Midlanders gained another attacking chance, and O'Connor did well to smother it.

O'Brien, whose name had gone into Hancock's book, apparently for dissent, minutes earlier, gifted the visitors a free just on the corner of the box when he felled John McNicholas, but Damien Rushe blazed it over the bar.

O'Connor, who has developed a good command of his area and a strong relationship with the back four, took well in the air after a well-judged call on an inswinging Athlone cross from the sideline.

With six minutes to go to the break, O'Hanlon redeemed his earlier error with a long ball up to Flood, who soloed his way forward, neatly passing O'Keeffe and delivered his message strongly past Loughman.

An Athlone handball in midfield went unnoticed in a game whose management by the officials was somewhat below par.

The visitors squandered a chance to reduce the deficit when Rushe's header from Eric Molloy's corner was narrowly over.

Just after that, Loughman did well to prevent further damage from a Grogan rasper, and Ciaran Ryan really should have taken a second touch on his chance after a well-shaped foray by the home team.

Lynch, who had not been having the best of evenings, was substituted at the re-start, and while a goal-kick was ordered after O'Brien had put the ball out off a defender, Bray immediately had two corner chances, Mick Collins clearing the first at the expense of the second.

Five minutes in, Flood neatly sidefooted an O'Brien through ball crossfield in the direction of Grogan, but the latter had over-anticipated and the pass went behind him.

Eddie Gormley had the ball in the Athlone net within seconds, but a questionable offside had been given against Flood and in fairness Loughman made little attempt to save. His effort to thwart Grogan a minute later only gave Bray another corner chance, but they have not been making the most of those recently.

John Flood was in the thick of the next few minutes' action, winning a corner off Molloy, then using his head to knock down for himself on the run - Loughman had to dive forward to clear that one - taken down to silence from the whistle, and penalised for rising higher than his marker. Finally, at the end of a three-in-a-row of bicycle kicks (Gormley and O'Brien were the second and third wheelers), his cross for Grogan was again behind the striker.

Charles in the meantime had joined Hancock's list, whether for his challenge on Moran or for some comment was not clear.

There was growing frustration on both sides, as much possibly at the decision-making as at their own failure to deliver: no notice was taken, for example, of Collins vigorously muscling substitute Gerry Quinn off the ball. And approaching half-way through the second period, no action was taken when Flood was taken down in the box, all but clear.

Athlone's next attack was largely defended with body-blocks, the last being provided by the well-developed seat of Charles. But they were back within a minute, and a free deep in Bray's right-hand corner was beautifully placed in the only spot not occupied in the penalty area. If Tom Silke's dive had connected, at about three yards out he could scarcely have missed.

With a quarter of an hour to go, Hancock indicated a free against Quinn, who was being heavily hassled by Silke. The Athlone captain swung a kick in the direction of the fallen Bray substitute, earning himself a red card without the satisfaction of connecting.

A card, this one paler, was also shown to Quinn once he struggled to his feet.

For the next ten minutes, Town laid siege to the Bray goal and the Seagulls were living on their nerves. 10-man syndrome is difficult to defend against at the best of times, and even a moment of indecision, let alone a lapse of concentration, can be fatal.

First, Gifford's nod back to O'Connor was off target, and despite his best efforts the Bray keeper rolled over the line with the ball, but Athlone, too, were having problems converting set-pieces despite a second in a row here.

It wasn't all the visitors: a long range Gifford cross brought Flood into play again, but his shot was wide. And the young striker turned provider a couple of minutes later, feeding up the line for Ryan, whose challenger appeared to concede a corner; yet again, a goalkick was given. The same decision followed O'Brien's attempt to win a corner on the other side moments later following Gormley's efforts with the deadball the same player had won earlier.

Meanwhile, McNicholas had joined Hancock's list for a challenge on Gifford.

Loughman did well to push another Gormley corner over, and two more followed without any gain for the home team, but when the visitors rushed the Bray goal in the dying minutes, a wayward pass wide from O'Hanlon, who expected Farrell to be there to pick it up, instead fell to McNicholas in space. He tapped in for substitute Michael McCann to sneak the ball through the box and past O'Connor.

The final score probably reflected more accurately the margin between the teams, though Athlone can never be taken for granted, and can probably produce a better performance at home - as Bray learned to their cost last season.

Neither side was particularly well served by the officials, far too much illegal behaviour being tolerated by both referee and assistants, and on the other hand any flow in the game being inhibited by the whistle for no immediately apparent reason.

Three promotion places means that many more teams assume they'll have a chance. Teams that think they're in with a shout will perform better. Moving ahead of Athlone still leaves no room for complacency.

Mícheál Ó hUanacháin

Bray Wanderers:

1 Chris O'Connor; 2 Stephen Gifford, 4 Jody Lynch, 5 Graham O'Hanlon, 3 Maurice Farrell; 7 Colm Tresson, 6 Eddie Gormley (c), 8 John Flood, 11 Ciaran Ryan; 10 Kevin Grogan, 9 Kieran O'Brien

Subs: 12 Wesley Charles (for Lynch H/T), 14 Gerry Quinn (for Grogan 53), 15 Michael Lawless, 16 Paul O'Reilly, 17 Keith Long (for Ryan 84)

Athlone Town:

1 Graeme Loughman; 2 Graham O'Keeffe, 5 Des Hope, 4 Tom Silke (c), 3 Mick Collins; 9 Steve Gavin, 6 Damien Rushe, 8 John McNicholas, 7 Eric Molloy; 10 Adrian Murphy, 11 Padraig Moran

Subs: 12 Steve Kelly, 14 Jonathan Prizeman (for Collins 74), 15 Robert Shine (for Moran 79), 16 Michael McCann (for Molloy 65), David Kennedy (gk)

Referee: Damien Hancock

Stevo Da Gull
28/04/2004, 7:04 PM
Twice John Flood was having his shirt pulled in the box, the second time (after the s/o) the shirt was nearly pulled off his back (like Niall Quinn winning peno V Spaind in World Cup) and it reminded me of a game this eason where Totenham had a stonewall peno turned down because they'd allready gottten a peno in the game + 1 the week before... so this leaves a question for refs= is a peno or s/o (a stonewall) not still a peno or s/o under any circumstance? :confused: