Limerick FC secured a vital 2-1 win in the race to avoid the dreaded automatic relegation place in their premier division clash with Bray Wanderers at the Markets Field. It was a proverbial six pointer and goals from Cian Coleman and Barry Maguire either side of a Ronan Coughlan equaliser provided Tommy Barrett’s side with the victory.
Bray Wanderers had the first chance of the game as Billy Dennehy was caught high up the pitch allowing Daniel Kelly to pick out Gary McCabe but the Bray captain couldn’t keep the shot down.
Limerick responded immediately as great play from Will Fitzgerald and Billy Dennehy on the left resulted in the former producing a cross for Cian Coleman who’s header forced a save from Evan Moran. Shortly afterwards, The Shannonsiders took the lead as Cian Coleman latched on to an attempted through ball from Barry Maguire and placed a shot past Moran into the bottom corner.
Unfortunately, the lead was short lived as Limerick’s defence was caught flat footed by a long ball from Sean Harding and it allowed Ronan Coughlan to react first and lob the advancing Brendan Clarke. Limerick re-took the lead when striker Conor Ellis outpaced Rhys Gorman to reach the by-line before crossing for Barry Maguire to prod home from close range.
The visitors should have equalised on the half hour mark as Limerick failed to clear a free-kick delivery and Craig Walsh somehow managed to guide his shot wide from 10 yards. The Super Blues lively winger Will Fitzgerald delivered a cross which fell to opposite winger but his weak header was well held by Evan Moran.
Approaching the half time whistle, Limerick midfielder Barry Maguire attempted an ambitious shot from distance which forced a delayed save from Moran as Limerick went into the break in the lead.
At the beginning of the second half, Kevin Lynch tried his luck from distance but it was easily saved by Clarke. Limerick responded to Bray’s first half change of formation by employing a 3-5-2 shape of their own with the introduction of Tony Whitehead in place of Karl O’Sullivan.
In a half of few chances, Limerick centre-back Killian Cantwell skied an effort over the crossbar at the back post following a flick on from Eoin Wearen.
Limerick escaped unscathed when Conor Kenna picked the ball up in space before feeding Daniel Kelly. The winger’s effort cannoned off his teammate Ger Pender who was in an offside position in what looked like a tight call.
With five minutes remaining and Bray pushing forward, Limerick FC came close to extending their lead as Shane Tracy’s clearance found Danny Morrissey and a neat one-two with Will Fitzgerald put Morrissey through but his blasted effort was palmed away by Moran.
As we approached injury time, Bray came extremely close to an equaliser as a goalmouth scramble ensued and Ger Pender was denied by Brendan Clarke from close range.
Despite late pressure from the Seagulls, Limerick managed to clear a succession of corners to hold on to the precious lead. The Shannonsiders are now 9 points clear of Bray in the league table. With more players expected to depart in the coming days, it was badly needed. Limerick face Derry City next week at the Brandywell.
Limerick FC: Brendan Clarke, Shaun Kelly, Killian Cantwell, Eoin Wearen, Billy Dennehy, Cian Coleman, Shane Duggan, Barry Maguire (Shane Tracy 78), Will Fitzgerald, Karl O’Sullivan (Tony Whitehead 55), Conor Ellis (Danny Morrissey 66).
Subs not used: Tommy Holland, Ger Barry, Adam Foley
Yellow Cards: Eoin Wearen (34)
Red Cards: None
Bray Wanderers: Evan Moran, Sean Harding, Sean Heaney, Rhys Gorman, Kevin Lynch, Paul O’Conor, Craig Walsh, Gary McCabe (Conor Kenna 27), Daniel Kelly, Jake Kelly (Ger Pender H/T), Ronan Coughlan.
Subs not used: Mark O’Connor, Calvin Rogers, Alex Rafferty
Yellow Cards: Kevin Lynch (44), Sean Harding (54)
Red Cards: None
Referee: Ray Matthews