Students fail to sparkle

UCD 0 – Bray 1Another disappointing result for UCD’s soccer team saw them drop all three points to a visiting Bray side last Friday, reports Gordon O’Callaghan Pat Devlin’s Bray Wanderers were the visitors to the Belfield Bowl on Friday night in what was a tight affair. UCD made two changes from their draw with Galway United, with Sean Harding coming in at right back and Samir Belhout drafted into the left wing.Both teams lined up in a fluid 4-3-1-2 and 4-3-2-1 formation with Graham Rusk and Chris Shields playing in the number nine role for UCD and Bray respectively.Possession was a key in a game where both teams where trying to play the ball on the ground, with captain Gary Dempsey pulling the strings for Bray Wanderers in the centre of the park and helping them to dominate early on.Bray’s high pressing line meant that the Students back four where forced to pump long balls into Rusk, however Bray’s centre back pairing of Adam Mitchell and Derek Prendergast where quite comfortable with this approach.The first chance of the game fell to Bray as winger Jake Kelly whipped in a dangerous cross from the left, which UCD keeper Ger Barron bravely cleared before it could reach the on rushing Shields.The game was played at a frantic pace, but despite Dempsey’s best attempts, both teams were sloppy in possession and neither were able to build substantial periods of possession.UCD’s first attempt on goal was in keeping with what was becoming an increasingly frustrating evening. Good build up play in the middle found full back Sean Harding in space outside of the box, only for him to run out of options and attempt a speculative long range effort that went well wide of the target.As the half progressed and Gary Dempsey continued to dominate in the centre of midfield, Bray started to look more and more comfortable, and really should have went in front as midfielder Danny O’Connor was set free from a long throw but Barron came to the rescue once more. Mulroy had a follow up effort that was blocked and eventually a free out was awarded.The Students started to make tentative steps into the game after this and found some success down the right with Dean Marshall. Despite skinning his opposing full back numerous times, Marshall either failed to deliver a quality cross or confronted a solid Bray defence that cleared the ball well.Then, on the brink of half time, UCD had their best chance with Paul O’Connor chipping through for Rusk, one-on-one with the keeper his first touch let him down as Wanderers keeper Matt Gregg got down low to collect the ball.As the first half came to a close it was obvious that although both teams showed good attacking intent, too many stray passes were costing the sides with Bray enjoying the better of the chances.UCD started the second half in much the same fashion as they finished the first with the midfield of Corry, O’Connor and Creevy starting to gain more possession. Two free kicks on the edge of Bray boxes were the home side’s best chances in the early period, with Corry failing to test the keeper.Against the run of play however, Bray went in front as a free kick from Joe Kendrick was powered in off the head of Danny O’Connor leaving Barron no chance of stopping it.It was clear that Wanderers were happy with a one-goal lead, as they began to sit back and soak up their opponents’ pressure. UCD brought on Yael Haro for the anonymous Samir Belhout, in an attempt to add some power up front.Haro’s direct style was somewhat beneficial, as he found himself in two prime goal-scoring opportunities late in the game. The first was a fluffed shot from the right that went the other side of the post and the second was from a similar position but only a fine save from Gregg denied the Students their equaliser.Bray held on for their three points and their first win at the Belfield Bowl in over a decade. But in truth, UCD will be unhappy that they did not get at least a point from the game. Next up for UCD is Dundalk in Oriel Park this Friday evening, where Martin Russell will be hoping his boys can show more killer instinct in front of goal and come away with some much-needed points.