Bray Wanderers 2, Derry City 1
DERRY CITY's 10 match unbeaten run was brought to a shock halt by bottom of the table side, Bray Wanderers in a bitterly disappointing and largely forgettable night at the Carlisle Grounds.
Bray striker, Ronan Coughlan twice put the Seagulls ahead in the second half, either side of a Nicky Low equaliser, as the home side clinched just a second league win of the season in front of a paltry 400 attendance.
In fact the league's basement club have taken just seven points from 15 games this season with victories over Shamrock Rovers, an opening day draw with Dundalk and now this huge upset against the Candy Stripes who went into the game having taken 23 from a possible 27 points in their previous nine league matches.
It was Derry's fourth defeat of the season and a first since the 6-1 loss at Tallaght Stadium on March 9th last as they now trail third placed Waterford by five points as they go into upcoming league games against Cork City and Dundalk at Brandywell.
Bray had scored just six goals going into the game but two Coughlan goals in the space of 12 second half minutes was enough to see off an below-par City side.
City full-back, Conor McDermott and winger, Ronan Hale were restored to the starting XI at the expense of Ronan Curtis and Eoin Toal who both dropped to the bench following Monday night's 3-0 win at Limerick.
Bray's caretaker boss, Graham Kelly made three changes to the team which lost to Sligo Rovers with Gary McCabe, Paul O'Conor and Ronan Coughlan replacing Ger Pender, Dylan Hayes and Dan McKenna.
Kenny Shiels criticised the state of the Limerick pitch at Markets Field last Monday night and the City boss certainly won't have been pleased with the condition of the Carlisle Grounds with the grass long and dry and not conducive to the free-flowing football the City boss wants his team to produce.
Bray exerted early pressure on their visitors, forcing two successive corners in the opening two minutes as Derry were under the cosh and struggling to get out of their own half. Experienced midfielder, Gary McCabe flashed an effort just wide on 13 minutes while Dan Kelly fired over the crossbar moments later.
Bray were well organised and hard to break down but they shaded the first half as Derry were lethargic in their build-up play and failed to fashion a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.
The home side won a free-kick on the stroke of half-time but it was defended well by Derry before it broke to Corey Galvin on the edge of the box and he blasted harmlessly over the crossbar.
It was the last action of a largely uneventful, scoreless first half and there was much improvement needed from the visitors in the final third if they were to take anything from the game.
There was more urgency in Derry's attacking play after the break as they applied sustained pressure and when Low found Rory Patterson peeling off at the back post, his volleyed effort was blocked bravely by the Bray defence on 56 minutes.
Suddenly the game sparked into life and Bray continued to threaten from set-pieces with Paul O'Conor coming close with his deflected effort going behind for another corner. From the resultant set-piece on the hour mark, skipper, McCabe delivered towards the far post where Coughlan - who netted the winning goal against Shamrock Rovers in Bray's only previous victory of the season - bundled it into the net to open the scoring.
However, that lead lasted just three minutes as McDermott did brilliantly to drive at the Bray defence before slipping the ball into the path of Low on the edge of the area and the Scottish midfielder produced a fantastic finish into the corner of the net to get Derry back in the game - the ex-Dundee man's second goal of the season!
Derry were going in search of the lead and Patterson had a decent chance following a promising move but he headed into the hands of grateful Bray keeper, Evan Moran.
Just as it looked like Derry were getting on top, City midfielder, Rory Hale gave away possession and McCabe sprayed the ball wide to McKenna who found Coughlan and he fired past Gerard Doherty with a clinical finish to give Bray the lead on 72 minutes for the second time in the match.
Despite a flurry of late chances, including a goal-line clearance from Conor Kenna on 83 minutes and a fantastic save at the death by Moran from substitute Ronan Curtis, Derry fell to a surprising but deserved defeat at the hands of lowly Bray.
Bray Wanderers: E. Moran; H. Douglas, S. Heaney, C. Kenna, K. Lynch; D. Kelly (A. McGovern 76), R. Gorman, G. McCabe, P. O'Conor, C. Galvin (D. McKenna 69); R. Coughlan (G. Pender 90); Subs Not Used - A. Dempsey, S. Flynn, D. Hayes, C. Rogers,
Derry City: G. Doherty; C. McDermott, D. Cole, G. Peers, J. Doyle; J. McDonagh (B. Doherty 64), N. Low, R. Hale, Ronan Hale (R. Curtis 64); A. McEneff; R. Patterson (J. Cofie 77); Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, N. Boyle, J. Cofie, E. Toal, N. Logue.
Referee - John McLoughlin