Derry City leave Carlisle Grounds empty handed after late Bray winner

Ronan Hale reacts to a missed chance as Derry City fall to defeat in Bray
Ronan Hale reacts to a missed chance as Derry City fall to defeat in Bray

Bray Wanderers 2 Derry City 1

DERRY CITY came away empty handed from relegated Bray Wanderers for the second time this season after a 95th minute winning goal from John O'Sullivan.

It was the second 2-1 defeat for Kenny Shiels' troops at the Carlisle Grounds in 2018 and the last gasp comeback victory ended a 10 game losing run for the Co, Wicklow men.

Dean Shiels netted his second goal of the season to hand Derry the lead on 15 minutes after teenager, Shane McNamee had earlier crashed a shot off the underside of the bar.

However, the Candy Stripes' Achilles' heel of conceding from set-pieces saw them fall to a second league defeat in four days.

Sean Heaney sent a glancing header into the net from a free-kick to equalise for Bray on 26 minutes after Jamie McDonagh had cleared off the line from Jake Ellis.

Despite late pressure from Derry in the closing minutes of the game, it was the home side who forced the winner as O'Sullivan headed home Jake Kelly's corner as Grimes failed to collect.

Derry now must win against St Pat's at Richond Park next Friday night in the final game of the season to ensure they don't slip to a miserable eight place finish with Sligo Rovers creeping up the table.

The big news prior to kick-off was the omission of club captain and goalkeeper, Gerard Doherty from the squad following his own goal against Cork City at Brandywell last Friday night.

The Creggan man didn't travel with the team due to illness and Eric Grimes came in for his league debut for the Candystripes while former Watford youth, Nathan Gartside earned a place on the bench. Teenager, Eoin Toal was handed the captains' armband in a youthful City team which didn't have a single player from Derry!

Kenny Shiels made a total of FIVE changes from the team which lost heavily to FAI Cup finalists, Cork with Aaron McEneff, Nicky Low, Rory Hale and Ben Fisk all dropped to the bench.

And alongside Grimes, in came teenager, Shane McNamee for his first start of the campaign, Aidy Delap, Aaron Splaine and Dean Shiels.

The visitors enjoyed the majority of the ball in the early stages but Bray had the first effort on target on six minutes when John Sullivan picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and his shot bounced just wide of Grimes' left hand post.

Sean Heaney fouled Delap in a good position on the right side of the Bray penalty area on 13 minutes, McDonagh whipped in the free-kick and when it was cleared to the edge of the area, McNamee's superbly hit shot crashed off the underside o the bar and bounced out. Darren Cole headed the rebound into the unguarded net but the assistant referee raised his flag for offside.

Two minutes later Derry did take the lead when Delap linked up with Hale on the right wing and when the Ireland U21 international squared the ball to Shiels on the penalty spot, the ex-Rangers man took a touch before firing into the net past the helpless, Evan Moran.

Bray were unfortunate not to equalise on 22 minutes when Sean Harding's dangerous cross wasn't dealt with and Jake Ellis' header at the back post was superbly cleared off the line by McDonagh.

The hosts didn;t have long to wait for another chance and when Kevin Lynch sent his free-kick into the crowded Derry penalty area, Harding rose above two Derry defenders and guided his header into the corner of the net with Grimes wrong-footed.

City's stand-in skipper, Toal burst through the middle of the Bray defence from inside his own half before slotting the ball through to Hale five minutes before the break. Hale turned quickly and his right footed shot was parried away by Evan Moran who had scurried off his line and when the rebound fell kindly to McNamee, the teenager's shot on the half volley was blocked superbly by the Bray keeper at his near post.

Hale was causing problems for the Bray defence and his shot from just indie the 18 yard box was deflected behind by the outstretched foot of Paul O'Conor on the line as Derry won their first corner of the match.

Toal headed high over the crossbar from McDonagh's inswinging corner kick 10 minutes after the break - the Armagh man should've done better!

Derry made a double substitution on the hour mark with Aaron McEneff and Ben Fisk replacing McNamee and Delap.

City midfielder, Shiels found the run of Ally Roy with a terrific pass and the Scotsman attempted to poke the ball past the out-rushing Moran but the Bray keeper got a strong hand to it and the chance was lost.

Roy created a half chance when cutting in on his right foot from the left wing, making a yard of space but he sliced his shot wide of the target.

Derry worked their way into the Bray penalty area superbly as Splaine linked up well with Fisk and the Canadian's deft pass found Ronan Hale whose shot was saved superbly by the feet of Moran.

McEneff came so close to finding the net on 80 minutes when he controlled Fisk's pass but his shot shaved t eh post with Moran rooted to the spot.

At the other end Sean Harding cut inside and his low shot with his left foot almost crept into the bottom corner but Grimes did well to make the save ta full stretch.

Derry desperately tried for the winner but couldn't find a way past Moran. And Grimes needed to be at his best to tip over Harding's free-kick in stoppage time.

From the resultant corner, Jake Kelly found O'Sullivan who headed into the net from close range in the fifth minute of stoppage time

Bray Wanderers: E. Mooran: K. Lynch (J. Crilly 65), C. Kenna, S. Heaney, C. Walsh; D. Noone (R. Gorman 80), P. O'Conor, J. Sullivan, S. Harding; G. Pender, J. Ellis (J. Kelly 84); Subs Not Used - E. Minogue, D. Hayes, D. Mamaliga, C. Maher.

Derry City: E. Grimes; J. McDonagh, E. Toal, D. Cole, K. McHattie; A. Delap (A. McEneff 61), A. Splaine, D. Shiels (Rory Hale 67), A. Roy; S. McNamee (B. Fisk 61); R. Hale; Subs Not Used - N. Gartside, D. Seaborne, G. Peers, N. Low.

Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).