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Red News
20-07-2014, 10:13 PM
Bray Away Match Report from RN Forumite Finno63 who played for Bray (and won the FAI Cup with them in 1990!)


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The seaside town of Bray in County Wicklow has its location very close to the border with Dublin, meaning that the local population seems to suffer from a split personality. The older folks definitely consider themselves Wicklowites, whereas, sadly, some of the younger generation seem happy to be regarded as “Dubs”. Bray can be a busy spot at weekends, especially in the summer – sort of a mini Blackpool, but without the tower!


Today, there was a huge influx of visitors to the town, estimated to be somewhere in the region of 75,000. However, only a few thousand of those were heading for the Carlisle Grounds to see a United XI take on the local League of Ireland club, Bray Wanderers, The rest had descended on the area to witness the spectacular sight of the Annual Bray Air Display which provided an interesting backdrop to the later stages of the friendly match at this small basic football stadium which is situated a stones throw away from the seafront.


Me and my son, Peter, both resplendent in Red News T-shirts, got dropped off at the top of the town and walked down to the club’s ground where I had reported for duty as a first team player, academy coach and U21/Reserve team manager on hundreds of occasions during different spells over a twenty year period that began in 1988. Unsurprisingly, it felt a little strange to be returning as a fan, but this time I was supporting their opposition, a second string squad representing my own lifelong obsession i.e. MUFC.


The match was all-ticket and so I picked ours up from the club offices during the week where I met an old friend, Ger Mahony, Bray’s groundsman, whom I hadn’t seen for years and who was, typically for him, worried about the effect of three matches on the pitch in quick succession (Bray had fixtures against MK Dons on Wednesday and Shamrock Rovers on Friday).


As we were there in plenty of time, we had a good look at the squads warming up while searching out other Reds to join for the match. The late inclusion of Bebe in the team seemed to get some people excited although I’m not sure why. Most of the 3,500 fans, who bathed in glorious sunshine for the afternoon, were there to support the Reds, with flags from Newport and Maynooth among those on show. I guessed that the Maynooth flag was there courtesy of fellow forumite Darragh Jones, who I bumped into for a quick chat after the game.


The home side made a lively start with striker Ismahil Akinade causing United’s left back Calum Evans, all sorts of problems. He set up a couple of early opportunities for Bray’s Philly Hughes who succeeded only in firing high and wide towards the bowling alley outside the ground.


United gradually took control as the half wore on with Ben Pearson pulling the strings and the impressive Josh Harrop catching the eye. Bray ‘keeper Stephen McGuinness was called in to action twice in the space of ten minutes, making two excellent saves from Harrop, firstly turning his low shot from the left hand side of the box around for a corner and then tipping his superb effort from the edge of the area over the bar.


Bebe, believe it or not, had actually started OK but then characteristically deteriorated as the half wore on. He managed to give away possession under little or no pressure near the half way line which set the home side on the attack, resulting in Akinade picking out Jake Kelly five yards inside the area who neatly fired home left footed giving Joel Pereira no chance and thus handing Bray the lead after 42 minutes.


Warren Joyce and his staff rang the changes for the second half with the likes of James Wilson, Saidy Janko and Tom Lawrence making their appearance. Despite having eight or nine fresh faces, United continued to huff and puff during the second period without creating any real clear-cut opportunities. Lawrence and Wilson linked up on a couple of occasions but Bray had a good shape and were well organised. Apart from one decent Angelo Henriquez effort well saved by McGuinness, they restricted United to a couple of tame shots from the edge of the area which the keeper dealt with fairly comfortably. Along with Henriquez who was full of running, another second half substitute, Paddy McNair was probably the pick of the rest as he tried to tiptoe and slalom his way through the massed ranks of the home defence without being able to provide a finishing touch. The game fizzled out as Bray were, naturally enough, delighted to hang on for the single goal victory which gives them some respite in the face of their current woes both on and off the pitch. Ironically, goalscorer Kelly and their man of the match, Dean Zambra are well known to me personally and are in fact, both die-hard Reds!


Have to say it was very enjoyable to be back at the club and ground that I’ll always be associated with and to meet various people connected with the club who I hadn’t seen for a few years, felt good. Disappointed that United’s youngsters didn’t put on much of a show but the Bray lads worked hard and probably deserved the win.


Although the Reds dominated possession, Joyce has to have been disappointed by the lack of chances created over the 90 minutes but will surely be pleased with the performances of Harrop, Pearson and McNair who, along with the obvious talents of Wilson and Lawrence, look like they might have a chance.


As for Bebe? No change there then I’m afraid……..


By Finno - 20/7/14


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