Match Report: City 1-0 Bray Wanderers

Match Report: City 1-0 Bray Wanderers

Cork City were too strong for the visiting Bray Wanderers on Friday night as a lone Evan McLaughlin finish was enough to seal all three points for City.

City boss Tim Clancy named three changes from his side’s win over Cobh Ramblers before the break, with Malik Dijksteel making his first start of the season since his return from injury, Barry Coffey also returned to the starting eleven, as did Josh Fitzpatrick.

City’s starters consisted of regular Brad Wade in goal, Evan McLaughlin, Charlie Lyons, Cian Coleman and Darragh Crowley in the back four, Greg Bolger, Sean Murray and Barry Coffey in midfield, Josh Fitzpatrick and Malik Dijksteel on either wing and Cian Murphy up top.

There was firepower ready on the bench, namely Jack Doherty and Cathal O’Sullivan, the latter only just returning from a knee injury sustained in training.

Lorcan Fitzgerald made two changes to his eleven from their victory in Bray two weeks previously, with Kieran Cruise replacing Paul Murphy in the defence and Callum Thompson drafted in to replace Shane Griffin.

Bray started the game with intent, as full-back Max Murphy’s deep cross found Guillermo Almirall, but his volley was no trouble for Brad Wade.

Wade then pulled off a brilliant save to deny Cristian Magerusan just five minutes in, as the Bray striker’s flick looked destined for the top corner if only for Wade’s brilliant athletic save.

Bray were making City worry at the start of the game with some very threatening attacking moves, Darren Craven took advantage of an error between City’s defence and forced Greg Bolger to clear his shot off the line.

City had their first real chance after thirteen minutes, Darragh Crowley played striker Cian Murphy in behind the Bray backline with a long ball, Murphy controlled the ball brilliantly but the danger was snuffed out by Bray keeper Stephen McGuinness.

Bray’s target man Magerusan nearly handed Bray the lead just on twenty minutes, as winger Callum Thompson showed impressive skills to beat Evan McLaughlin and swing a cross into the box, but the Romanian’s header was just off target and bounced wide of the post.

City were slow to enter the game, possibly still finding their feet after the season break, but when they did, they began to play some smooth attacking football and put serious pressure on The Seagulls.

Cian Murphy was the first to test Bray’s keeper with a shot from outside the box following a heavy touch from a Bray defender, his shot left much to be desired however, just rolling straight into the gloves of McGuinness.

City were determined not to let Bray enter the break on level terms, and with the momentum in their favour from their attacks, City broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time courtesy of Evan McLaughlin, who was assisted beautifully by Greg Bolger.

Bolger provided McLaughlin with a brilliant De Bruyne-esque lobbed ball into the box, and the goalscorer bent his shot around his marker from just outside the six-yard box to finish with style to net his fifth goal of the season and put his side in the driving seat heading into half-time.

City made two changes to begin the second half, with Conor Drinan and Jack Doherty introduced to replace Josh Fitzpatrick and Sean Murray.

City’s fitness advantage showed in the second half with the part-time Bray team struggling to maintain the standard they showed in the first half.

Darragh Crowley is a known fan of a long-range effort, and tried his luck into the Shed End but was denied by the diving gloves of Stephen McGuinness, Malik Dijksteel almost tapped in the rebound but the loose ball was cleared by Max Murphy.

City took advantage of the tiring Seagulls, and Greg Bolger’s probing through-ball was found by Cian Murphy, who shrugged off his opponent and chipped his shot over the onrushing goalkeeper, but the ball rolled wide from the tight angle.

Youngster Cathal O’Sullivan was introduced to the game in the 68th minute, replacing Malik Dijksteel on the wing.

Bradley Wade made a second all-star save of the night to deny Bray an equaliser, as Freddie Turley’s cross found Magerusan’s head from point-blank range only for Wade to dive across goal and pull off a brilliant stop to leave the Bray striker stunned.

Inside the last five minutes of normal time Cathal O’Sullivan utilised his quick feet to beat his man and send a cross into the box at the other end, Conor Drinan headed the cross down to Barry Coffey but Coffey mishit his strike on the half-volley and sent the ball disappointingly wide, squandering a prime opportunity to put the game beyond Bray’s grasp.

If Wade hadn’t made himself apparent between the sticks, he certainly had by the end of the game as he made two cracking saves in injury time to keep both the clean sheet and three points for City, once to leap up and deny Killian Cantwell’s shot from a loose ball, and again to parry Freddie Turley’s later attempt from outside the area.

The referee’s whistle sounded the end of the contest, to secure a well-deserved three points for The Leesiders. City’s midfield engine and the powerful bench were clearly the tipping point in what was a hotly contested first-half, with Drinan, O’Sullivan and Doherty all making a positive impact on the game when they were introduced, and they easily had the measure of the tiring Wanderers opposition.

Special mention has to be given to Bradley Wade between the sticks, with the Englishman putting on a Man of the Match performance with his saves vital in keeping Wanderers at bay throughout the game.

City will be back in action next on Thursday, 4th of July as the squad make the trip to Ferrycarrig to face Wexford FC.

Bray will begin the drive home up the M8 feeling they should have taken more of an advantage over City’s sluggish start, as they look ahead to their next fixture at home in the Carlisle Grounds as they take on league strugglers Longford Town.

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