Bray Wanderers picked up their first points of the season as Danny O’Connor’s second half double secured a 3-2 win over UCD at Belfield. Graham Rusk’s penalties either side of Jason Byrne’s opener had put the Students in the driving seat before the Seagulls skipper’s brace saw all three points go to Pat Devlin’s side.
In what turned out to be an end to end affair, the early exchanges saw the home side boss proceedings but they failed to test Bray ‘keeper Darren Quigley. Chris Mulhall has certainly caught the eye in the opening few games and it was he who had the game’s first effort after Robbie Benson broke free of the Seagulls midfield before feeding the former Shels man but his shot just missed the target. Moments later David O’Connor should have made it two from two for himself but he headed narrowly wide from Mulhall’s corner with the goal at his mercy.
Bray had yet to get control of the ball but nearly broke the deadlock when Sean Houston’s through ball found Kieran Marty Waters but his tame effort was straight at Ger Barron in the Students goal. From that moment, Pat Devlin’s side began to dominate the game with Barron superbly denying Jason Byrne from close range just before the half hour.
It didn’t take long for Byrne to find his range though and just minutes later it was he who scored Wanderers’ first goal of the campaign. Waters crossed from the left and somehow Dave O’Connor miscued his clearance to allow Byrne to head into the net at the back post.
The game swung once again though as Chris Lyons broke through and it seemed Quigley had denied him but referee McLoughlin pointed to the spot for a tug on the UCD striker by Conor Butler. Graham Rusk stepped up and sent Quigley the wrong way to peg the home side level.
Bray started the second half in positive fashion and could have gone in front if Jason Byrne had hit the target on two occasions. First he was setup by Waters but couldn’t keep his shot down from just inside the box with Barron scrambling and then a superb long range effort just cleared Barron’s bar.
The game began to open up with both sides looking dangerous but it was UCD who hit the front from the spot yet again as this time Danny Ledwith was felled just inside the box before Rusk once again slotted home.
Sean Houston scored a hat trick against the Students last season and could have drawn Bray level but his header went inches over before the Seagulls did bag a deserved equaliser. Danny O’Connor was on hand to lob over Barron after Waters had set him up from Houston’s in swinger.
UCD had plenty of possession but it was Bray who had the cutting edge and prolonged spell of pressure saw Massey feed substitute Webster down the right and his hanging cross was met by O’Connor at the back post to head Bray into the lead with just seven minutes remaining.
That wasn’t the end of the chances though as the game continued to flow but Bray held on to secure a vital three points and perhaps give their season the boost it badly needed.
UCD: Ger Barron; Daniel Ledwith, Ciaran Nangle, David O’Connor, Mick Leahy; James Kavanagh, Chris Mulhall, Paul O’Conor, Robbie Benson (Dean Clarke '77’); Chris Lyons, Graham Rusk.
Subs not used: Mark McGinley, Mark Langtry, Hugh Douglas, Barry McCabe, Stephen Doyle, Cillian Morrison.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; Dane Massey, Adam Mitchell, Sean Houston, Conor Butler (Dave Webster '71); Adam Hanlon, Danny O’Connor, Dean Zambra, Graham Kelly; Kieran “Marty” Waters, Jason Byrne (John Mulroy '76).
Subs not used: Brian Kane, Anthony Bolger, Kevin Knight, Jonathan Kelty, Stephen Last.
Bookings: Butler (39), Mitchell (43), G Kelly (63), Massey (86).
Referee: Paul McLoughlin
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Danny O’Connor; His goals were superbly taken as he took control of the game from midfield to lead his side to a deserved victory.