UCD AFC fall short against league leaders Bray Wanderers in an important clash atop the Airtricity first division at home in The Bowl. Match report by Christine Coffey.
Andrew Myler’s unchanged side came into the game against the league leaders with realistic hopes of reaching the playoffs for the Airtricity premier division. The students were coming off a good win against Shamrock Rovers II side and were looking to cement their place among the promotion hopefuls.
It was the visitors who started the brighter of the sides, taking the lead with only 3 minutes on the clock. Dylan Barnett’s cross found Gary Shaw, who did well to give the visitors an early lead. The Wanderers continued to press home their advantage in the opening encounters. Almost immediately after the goal the Bray side found themselves with a threatening set-piece opportunity but failed to convert. As they weathered the storm, UCD’s best opportunity of the first quarter of the game came from a free-kick just outside the box, but the shot failed to make it past the wall. The hosts worked the ball back into the final third and created a shooting chance for Paul Doyle, whose shot was deflected wide for a corner. UCD gradually built their way into the game and found themselves with several promising attacking opportunities but failed to find a way past the Bray shot-stopper Maher. UCD gradually began to find a footing in the game and on the cusp of half-time they finally equalised through Colm Whelan and went into the break on level terms with the league leaders.
The second half saw the visitors show why the occupied top spot in the division. Dylan Barnett again proved provider, this time from a set-piece, when teammate Darragh Lynch got on the end of the free-kick to edge their side in front. Barnett’s free-kick in the 61st minute gave the visitors a two-goal cushion which UCD couldn’t overturn.
The students retained their playoff berth above Cabinteely on goal-difference alone with three rounds of games left to play. Bray hold onto top spot in the division because of Athlone’s scalp of Drogheda. Dylan Barnett was deserving of the man of the match award after his assists and goal to cap off an impressive performance worthy of top-flight football.