Waterford United 0; Bray Wanderers 0
As the clocks ticks to March 7th, the day Waterford United play away to Wexford Youths in the opening game of the First Division League, the new look Blues played another pre-season game at the RSC on Friday last.
After losing to Galway United and Cobh Ramblers twice (including one game in the Munster Cup) the players were keen to put an end to that losing run and they achieved their aim in this match.
Manager Gareth Cronin is still trying to put a shape on his team and on the evidence of this contest he is going the right way about things.
Bray Wanderers field a full strength team, a side that will play in the Premier League this season. Experienced players such as Clive Delaney, Andy Myler, Gavin Whelan and Kevin Doherty were in the Seagulls’ line up and they did their best to try and win the game.
The first half was pretty entertaining but due to the fact that both managers made a number of changes in the second half the game became somewhat scrappy near the end.
Having said that it was the Blues who had the best chance to win the game near the end through David Grincell who was one of the substitutes used. This player is looking very lively and he could very well be very much in the thoughts of Gareth Cronin as he looks ahead to Wexford next month.
The Blues boss played Kieran Fitzgerald at right full-back with Robbie Clarke at left full. David Breen and John Hayes were the central defenders. Luke Fitzpatrick played in the middle of the park with Paul McCarthy played out wide right, with Kevin Waters on the left.
Vinny Sullivan and Karl Bermingham were the front-runners with Dave Warren playing alongside Fitzpatrick in the middle. Danny O’Leary began the game in goal but Pakie Holden went in between the posts for the second half.
It was O’Leary who produced the first save of the game after 9 minutes when he did extremely well to turn away a free-kick taken from the left by Paddy Kavanagh. Kavanagh took the corner kick from the right and he picked out John Mulroy with the flag kick but again Danny O’Leary was equal to the task by diving low to his right to smother the ball at his upright.
Waterford enjoyed a fair deal of pressure during the first half and they went close on the half-hour mark when Luke Fitzpatrick sprayed the ball out to Paul McCarthy who tried to pick out Vinny Sullivan but the towering Clive Delaney headed clear.
Five minutes later Luke Fitzpatrick went close for Waterford after Clive Delaney had headed a Kevin Waters cross clear. Fitzpatrick met the ball on the volley but his shot went narrowly wide.
Shortly afterwards Dave Warren played in Karl Bermingham but the Wanderers goalkeeper Chris O’Connor rushed from his line to clear the danger.
In the final minutes of the half Kevin Waters attempted to chip the ball over O’Connor from outside the penalty area but the ball went over the crossbar.
Bray Wanderers went close to opening the scoring in the second half when Paddy Kavanagh picked out Andy Myler from the right but the former Waterford United player headed over the crossbar.
Four minutes later Vinny Sullivan threaded the ball through to Karl Bermingham but again the goalkeeper came from his line to prevent Bermingham from scoring.
Chris O’Connor had been replaced in goal at this stage by Gavin McInerney. John Flood played a delightful pass to John Mulroy on 79 minutes but the latter shot wide from the left side of the area when really he should have at least made Pakie Holden work.
The best chance of the game fell to Waterford 5 minutes from full time when Michael Foley (another second-half substitute) played the ball forward to David Gricell but with the goal at his mercy he shot wide.
Overall this was a good workout for the Blues. It was their last pre-season game and now the scene is almost ready for the opening game in the Model County on March 7th.
Waterford United: Danny O’Leary, Kieran Fitzgerald, Robbie Clarke, David Breen, John Hayes, Luke Fitzpatrick, Dave Warren, Paul McCarthy, Vinny Sullivan, Karl Bermingham, Kevin Waters. Subs: Pakie Holden for O’Leary (H-T), Ray Lally for Waters (52 mins), Colin O’Shea for Fitzgerald (57 mins), David Grincell for Sullivan (70 mins), Michael Foley for Bermingham (76 mins).
Bray Wanderers: Chris O’Connor, Gary Cronin, Kevin Doherty, Clive Delaney, Gavin Whelan, Paddy Kavanagh, Andy Myler, Gary McCabe, Mark Duggan, Derek Pender, John Mulroy. Subs: Gavin McInerney for O’Connor (52 mins), Gareth Matthews for Cronin (57 mins), Emeka Omabika for McCabe (70 mins), John Flood for Myler (70 mins), Alan Cawley for Duggan (76 mins).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer (Cork).