Limerick FC drew 1-1 with Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds and in the process picked up what proved to be a valuable point in their bid for premier division survival. Chiedozie Ogbene equalised in the second half after Daragh Noone had given Bray the lead in the first half. Brendan Clarke saved a Gary McCabe penalty as Limerick survived sustained pressure from Bray for the majority of the second period.
Limerick started the better and Brazilian Rodrigo Tosi, who tormented opponent Tim Clancy all night, let fly from distance but the ball went well over the bar. Limerick’s next opportunity came in the form of a Shane Tracy free-kick which was easily gathered by goalkeeper Peter Cherrie.
Both sides were struggling to maintain possession for a substantial amount of time, with Limerick enjoying the better of the chances. On the half hour mark, Stephen Kenny did well to create space for himself before dragging his effort wide. Tosi’s snap shot was punched away by Cherrie as the Shannonsiders pushed for the opening goal.
However, slightly against the run of play, Limerick were dealt a big blow. Bray’s Gary McCabe delivered a superb cross into the box which was met by the onrushing Daragh Noone who steered his header past the helpless Brendan Clarke. The Super Blues faithful must have been fearing the worst at this stage, considering their sides struggle to gain points from losing positions.
Approaching half-time, impressive 18 year-old right-back Barry Cotter should have levelled for Limerick but he directed his free header wide from eight yards out.
Bray began the second half with a real purpose and former Limerick FC player Aaron Greene, who was a threat all evening, turned on to his stronger left foot before drilling a low strike into the side netting. Limerick were lucky to escape punishment as Barry Cotter misjudged a cross but Brendan Clarke was on hand to deny Jason Marks at the back post.
Just a minute later, the visitors drew level courtesy of a superb individual effort from Cheidozie Ogbene as the Cork man beat the challenges of Conor Kenna and Tim Clancy before rifling a low left footed shot past Peter Cherrie. Ogbene was a threat all evening and he got his rewards with a goal from nothing.
Rodrigo Tosi came close to giving Neil McDonald’s Limerick the lead. However, the Brazilian headed narrowly wide following an inviting Shane Tracy cross.
At this point, Neil McDonald replaced Lee-J Lynch with John O’Flynn and the latter would now partner Rodrigo Tosi up front. The switch certainly did not help Limerick’s cause as they lost their shape and momentum in search of a winner. The direct approach with the hope of O’Flynn snapping up second balls failed to materialise.
With twenty minutes remaining, it looked as though McDonald would be looking at another defeat as Barry Cotter was adjudged to have fouled Jason Marks in the box and referee Paul McLoughlin awarded the home side a penalty. Much to the joy of the travelling Limerick support, Brendan Clarke guessed correctly and saved Gary McCabe’s spot kick.
With ten minutes remaining, Shane Tracy, who celebrates a testimonial with the club on Saturday after ten years service, came agonizingly close with a long range free-kick. Captain Shane Duggan was next to try his luck for Limerick but his shot went just wide much to Peter Cherrie’s relief.
On the balance of play and due to the penalty miss, Limerick must be happy with a point. Although with Galway picking up a crucial three points against Derry, it drags the relegation threatened pack closer together. Next up for Limerick is a home tie against Champions elect Cork City.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie, Keith Buckley, Conor Kenna, Tim Clancy, Karl Moore (Jake Ellis 83), Daragh Noone (Hugh Douglas 77), John Sullivan, Gary McCabe, Ryan Brennan, Jason Marks (Kevin Lynch 74), Aaron Greene.
Subs Not Used: Lee Steacey, Luke Rossiter, Calvin Rogers, Ger Pender.
Yellow Cards: Conor Kenna (26), Keith Buckley (82), Gary McCabe (86).
Limerick FC: Brendan Clarke, Barry Cotter, Tony Whitehead, Dave O’Connor, Shane Tracy, Shane Duggan, Bastien Hery, Lee-J Lynch (John O’Flynn 60), Stephen Kenny (Dean Clarke 74), Chiedozie Ogbene, Rodrigo Tosi.
Subs not used: Freddy Hall, Killian Brouder, Joe Crowe, Peter Berki, Henry Cameron.
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
Sporting Limerick Man of the Match: Chiedozie Ogbene