Bray Wanderers 0 Cork City 0
CORK City ended their losing run but are now five games without a win after a scoreless draw against Bray Wanderers in the SSE Airtricity League First Division at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night.
At the outset of the campaign, both sides were expected to challenge Shelbourne and Galway United for promotion but came into the game on four and three points respectively. For Bray, this was a fifth draw in six games while City’s lack of cutting edge means that they have remain on four goals scored. However, there was at least the consolation of a first clean sheet of the season for Colin Healy’s side.
With four defeats on the trot since winning their league opener against Cobh Ramblers, City’s search for a spark was illustrated by the fact that there were five changes to the team that had lost to Treaty United the previous week.
Gordon Walker and Jack Baxter returned after spells out of the side, with Uniss Kargbo and Dale Holland respectively making way. Further forward, Jack Walsh led the line as he came back from suspension, replacing Beineón O’Brien-Whitmarsh and Cian Murphy and Cian Bargary were also in the 11. With George Heaven out, Cian Coleman moved back from midfield to defence and Dylan McGlade was on the bench. City’s two most experienced outfielders, captain Gearóid Morrissey and Steven Beattie, were not fit enough for inclusion.
Moments of real quality were in short supply in the first half, in which Bray had the better of the play without dominating matters. Brandon Kavanagh was their main creative outlet and he had the game’s first chance, a low shot wide after a third-minute short corner.
After a Walsh half-chance for City, a Kavanagh free kick from the right took a deflection and hit the post, with Richie O’Farrell’s follow-up saved by Mark McNulty.
Bray’s movement was more cohesive than City’s, as evidenced by a good Bargary run into the Bray area only to be surrounded by four defenders with no team-mates anywhere near him, though Walker did have a shot blocked when the ball fell loose. It was a similar situation when Walsh showed good strength to force his way into Seagulls territory but, surrounded by men in green and white, he was forced to run the ball out.
Just before that, Bray’s Joe Doyle should have done more to test McNulty when a Kavanagh ball put him behind the defence and in the 24th minute the hosts’ captain, former City defender Aaron Barry, was unlucky not to reach a Kavanagh delivery to the back post from a free-kick.
Jack Baxter, back in the starting 11 for the first time since the second game of the season against Cabinteely, had a low effort which was wide after a free was rolled to him, and Bray continued to create the better openings.
Eight minutes before half-time, Kavanagh and Mark Byrne combined to give a Cian Maher a chance in the City area but he couldn’t find the target.
On the resumption, City offered more in terms of endeavour and application, albeit without fashioning anything clear-cut in the game’s third quarter. Midway through the half, Bargary – now on the left after starting on the right – almost found an avenue towards goal but good defending from Andrew Quinn denied him.
In the 72nd minute, it was Bargary’s cross from the left which was met by Walsh, who was unlucky to see the ball flash just over the bar.
Late on, Bray’s Quinn headed over from a Mark Byrne cross and that was as close as either side came to a last-gasp winner.
B Maher; Byrne, Quinn, Barry, O’Shea; Lovic, Clifford; C Maher (Shaw 56), Kavanagh, O’Farrell; Doyle.
McNulty, Walker, Coleman, Hakkinen, Hurley; Byrne, Baxter (Holland 90); Bargary, Crowley, Murphy (O’Brien-Whitmarsh 81); Walsh.
M Connolly (Donegal).