View Full Version : Bray Vs. Kilkenny

01/09/2003, 10:27 AM

Kilkenny awarded Paul Forsyth the freedom of Buckley Park tonight and the tricky Bray flanker was the eventual match winner although it took a long hour for the inevitable to materialise. It was an extraordinary evening in an extraordinary location.

To enter City’s ground you turn into what looks like the entrance to a private house and indeed the drive winds round to a large residence under re-construction. But duck down a narrow lane to the left and you emerge in the car park of a modern soccer stadium with new stands and a fine playing surface. The first clue that appearances can be deceptive is the lack of a match programme. Compared to its environment the City team is anonymous.

The boots are on other feet when you consider the strength in depth of the Bray squad and the primitive state of the stadium in which they strut their stuff. The bottom line is that Kilkenny are entrenched as the lowliest club in the eircom League structure whilst Wanderers are in second place in the First Division table. I make no judgement; I merely observe.

This was a match in which the “miss of the season” occurred often enough to provide all the entries for an end of the season review. In that context Robbie McGuinness’ volley into the side netting from a narrow angle after only three minutes soon dropped out of contention. His opportunity was provided by Forsyth, in such splendid isolation on the left throughout you could swear the City doctor had warned his players before the game that the Bray man was infected with a deadly disease.

Home keeper O’Neill was soon in action as Forsyth roamed inside and tried his luck from the edge of the box after seven minutes. Then, as the City defence stood off, Zayed, who seems to be increasingly aware that soccer is a team game, flicked the ball to Flood in front of goal. For once he was ill-advised. His co-striker was offside, while he was not.

The gulf between the sides was only too evident and yet, with a certain fragility in the Seagulls' rearguard and striker Wood a City player with physical initiative, there was always the possibility of an upset while the score sheet remained blank. But it was Lee Quilty who nearly put the home team in front after ten minutes when his shot was deflected narrowly wide of O’Connor’s right post with the keeper helpless.

Despite the excellence of their playing surface, Kilkenny’s attempts to play the passing game were reserved for a protracted pre-match warm up. When it mattered they resorted to up-and-unders. With keeper O’Connor keen to make the penalty area his domain it seemed to be a case for the Bray back four to play higher up the pitch. Last night, with the ball a long time in the air and bouncing high, there were some nervous moments.

But Kilkenny’s other first half chances were restricted to three from the industrious Wood. First he dragged the ball wide under pressure from the pursuing Long, then he netted with a thunderbolt but not until after the whistle had gone for a borderline offside and finally he beat the oncoming O’Connor for possession but was too close to the dead ball line to capitalise.

Bray’s attempts to win the miss of the season award began after twenty one minutes when Flood and City keeper O’Neill both bottled a Forsyth cross in front of goal. Then Flood somehow contrived to scoop another Forsyth cross over from inside the goal area. Ten minutes later came a non-starter with Forsyth again the provider. Robbie McGuinness passed the ball directly into keeper O’Neill’s arms from point blank range after Forsyth’s cross. Play continued but the offside flag had been raised and the expected goal would have been disallowed.

Forsyth then decided to take charge himself but his wicked free kick was punched over by O’Neill as it dipped under the bar. The keeper then made a great double save from Tresson, pushing away his header from Gormley’s free kick and then advancing to block the same player’s fierce drive with his legs. Despite the constant activity around the City goal the first half ended scoreless after Fox, supplied by Zayed, had seen a long range drive clip the angle of O’Neill’s goal.

The second half opened with O’Neill, who always looked like a keeper about to make a mistake, but instead proved City’s man of the match, just hanging on to a corner from the left under his crossbar. Then Forsyth tried to chip him but O’Neill pushed the ball over.

At the other end Skippy O’Connor for once failed to come for a ball that was clearly his. But Wood was marshalled away from direct confrontation with the keeper and the best he could do was an overhead shot which O’Connor collected with ease. A few minutes later another long ball found Wood free but he mistimed his header and the danger passed. Within sixty seconds Gorman spotted the Bray keeper off his line only for O’Connor to quickly adjust his position and catch the resulting lob in comfort.

But it was the Kilkenny goal that was under siege and after O’Neill had frustrated McGuinness he moved smartly across his line to palm down a Gormley free kick that had cleared the wall. An hour gone and still no tangible reward for Bray and it appeared the Kilkenny doctor must have visited the visitors’ dressing room during the interval because now his own players seemed to think Forsyth was carrying the plague. Flood dragged the ball wide of a congested goalmouth with his colleague in acres of space on the left and calling for the ball.

After 62 minutes O’Brien replaced the unfortunate Flood. It was a good substitution because the veteran striker’s movement revitalised the Bray attack. But it was fitting that Forsyth made the eventual breakthrough three minutes later. O’Neill could only half stop his drive and, as the ball trundled on across goal, Zayed led a flock of three Seagulls to push the ball in with the home defenders gone fishing.

After 71 minutes the Bray flanker got his name into the record books with a goal that might well qualify for goal of the season. Picking up the ball just inside the Kilkenny half he ran on to unleash an unstoppable drive past O’Neill from thirty yards. The game was ultimately won but far from over. Two brave saves by O’Neill in the same minute and from point blank range prevented O’Brien and O’Hanlon from converting victory into a rout, and seven minutes from the end a long range effort from Tobin cleared the bar but triggered a lengthy delay for repairs to the Bray goal net. This dislocation of the tempo was effectively the end of the contest but Zayed profited in the second minute of stoppage time by adding his second goal of the evening, bringing his total to eleven and making him the Division’s second highest scorer.

Then it was simply a case of finding the way out of the car park and plunging back into the comparative reality of rural Ireland. If there was a football ground in “Brigadoon” it must have been like this.

Brian de Salvo

02/09/2003, 7:03 AM
Hey, I reckon that's copyrighted! Anyway, sad Kilkenny. Great ground, **** club. Tommy Lynch didn't stir in the dugout all night, probably resigned to putting up with the ineptitude of the team he'd sent out. Devo had spoken beforehand about taking nothing for granted and respecting Kilkenny- so much so that he buggered off to Stamford Bridge and left McGuirk in charge. Don't know which of them was responsible for picking the team but when will they realise that Zayed/ Tarzan is our best option up front- Zayed/ Flood just doesn't work. Left full is a problem but Keith Long has now had two fairly good games there. I know, 'Keith Long' and 'good game' don't normally appear together! Ciaran Ryan went to bits against Waterford but Chris O'Connor should take some of the blame for that back pass- he called for it. Maurice Farrell must be unfit cos surely he'd be straight in? Anyway, things are looking up and I reckon we're strong enough to go up- staying up is another story though...