Bray Wanders 2 Cobh Ramblers 1
AFTER a bright start, Cobh Ramblers fell to a 2-1 reversal at the hands of Bray Wanderers in the SSE Airtricity League First Division at the Carlisle Grounds.
The East Cork outfit were on course for another morale-boosting triumph in domestic football’s second-tier when skipper Ian Turner squeezed them ahead during the first half of a lively contest.
Yet with Joe Doyle finding the target either side of the interval, it was Bray who emerged with the spoils.
Unsurprisingly, the Ramblers starting line-up was unchanged from the one that defeated Wexford at St Colman’s Park last Saturday. Nathan O’Connell and Danny O’Connell were added to Stuart Ashton’s first-team squad in recent days but had to be content with places on the bench.
In a further boost to League of Ireland supporters, 600 spectators were permitted to attend this encounter in the seaside town - albeit it was some distance off the permitted capacity in the end. Ramblers received an early let-off when Brandon Kavanagh lashed over a well-timed Dylan Barnett cross with just under three minutes on the clock.
Cobh netminder Sean Barron turned away a Richie O’Farrell strike at a tight angle in the 16th-minute and Joe Doyle later shot against the side-netting for the Seagulls just shy of the first-quarter mark.
The Wicklow men were ultimately punished for their profligacy in front of goal, however. From a delicious Darren Murphy delivery into the area, Turner edged his side into the ascendancy by superbly heading to the bottom right-hand corner of the net on 32 minutes.
This offered the visitors a major psychological edge until Gary Cronin’s Bray fired back at the end of the opening period. Off another Barnett pull-back, it looked like Doyle was the one who supplied the finishing touches to a goalmouth scramble to leave the sides on level terms at the break.
This ensured Ramblers were on high alert with the Seagulls (captained by former Cork City centre-half Aaron Barry) now sensing a fifth win of the campaign was back within their grasp. Barron was marshalling his defence effectively but could do little to prevent Bray gaining the initiative 14 minutes into the second period.
When the ball dropped at his feet just outside the penalty box, the in-form Doyle unleashed an unstoppable drive to the Cobh net.
Although Stephen O’Leary subsequently forced an acrobatic save out of Brian Maher, Ashton looked to his reserves for inspiration. Just past the hour, Darryl Walsh and Ciaran Griffin were introduced in place of Cian Murphy and Jake Hegarty respectively.
Griffin’s aerial prowess offered Cobh a different attacking option but while he towered above the Bray back-four on a number of occasions, it didn’t lead to any game-changing opportunities. Indeed, the tie may well have been beyond doubt before the end had it not been for Barron’s stunning double save from Darren Craven and Kavanagh.
Eighth-place Cobh will now look to bounce back from this frustrating result when they visit John Caulfield’s Galway United next Friday.