Bohemians got their Airticity League campaign back on track with a thrilling 3-2 win over battling Bray Wanderers at a windswept Dalymount Park. A brace from Chris Lyons and a bullet header from Dave Mulcahy were enough to seal all three points for Aaron Callaghan’s men, who recorded their first home victory since the opening weekend, writes KEVIN FAGAN.
The Gypsies were made to work for the victory by a determined Bray outfit who didnt look like a team that were beaten by an aggregate score of 11 goals in their last two games. Both Mulcahy and Dave Scully shrugged off illness to start the game, and both played a vital part in what could turn out to be a vital win.
Despite a howling gale blowing towards Dean Delany at the Shopping Centre end, Bohs started brightly, with Andy Mulligan and Shane Fitzgerald making their season debuts out wide in a 3-5-2 formation at the start of the game. The opening 15 minutes belonged to Bohs, and they deservedly took the lead after 12. Lovely footwork from Ryan McEvoy split the Bray defence as they tried to get out from a cleared corner. McEvoy slipped in Andy Mulligan, and the young winger showed great composure to square the ball to Chris Lyons, who had the simple task of tapping in from 6 yards.
After that promising start, things started to go pear-shaped for the home side. Aided by the wind, Bray piled on the pressure. Ex-Bohs goal machine Jason Byrne almost scored an outrageous volley before the equaliser inevitably came. Again, it was a sloppy goal for Bohs to concede. In fact, it was somewhat of a freak goal. After Kieran “Marty” Waters was tackled by Luke Byrne on the edge of the box, the ball broke to Gary Dempsey, who let fly from 25 yards. The ball amazingly canonned off the spread-eagled Waters, looped into the air, and went in off what looked like a ricochet between the crossbar and Dean Delany’s head.
Pat Devlin’s men were unlucky not to get to half time in the lead. Delany pulled off some smart saves from Waters, Byrne, and John Mulroy as Aaron Callaghan abandoned the 3-5-2 and switched to an orthodox 4-4-2. There’s no doubt the Bohs manager would have been happy to hear the half time whistle.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were cagey, then Bohs burst into life. Dave Scully had what was surely his best performance in a Bohs shirt. He held the ball up magnificently, brought others into play, and was a general nuisance for the Bray defence all night. He was almost rewarded with a goal on the hour mark, but his toe poked effort from Mulligan’s cross was well saved by Darren Quigley.
The lead goal was coming, and it was no surprise that the ultra-sharp Lyons was again on the end of it. Keith Buckley, playing in a central midfield role, played it forward to McEvoy, who controlled brilliantly and sent Lyons through over the top. With Quigley coming to meet him, Lyons deflty lifted it over the keeper from the corner of the 18 yard box. It seemed to take an age to come down, but when it did – it nestled in the back of the net.
The home fans had hardly retaken their seats when the third goal arrived. A lovely whipped free kick from Buckley found Dave Mulcahy unmarked on the penalty spot. The big man made no mistake, rocketing his header into the top corner.
There was still 25 minutes left, and Bray came back into it in the final quarter. There was clear jitters in the air as Bohs struggled to keep the ball. Many long clearances were aimlessly directed, and the nerves were clearly on show. These nerves werent helped when Kevin Knight’s pull-back was neatly finished by John Mulroy on 75 minutes. There could have been a capitulation, but credit to the Bohs backline. Marshalled by Mulcahy, they stayed strong and restricted Bray to long range efforts. Jason Byrne dragged one wide, and Bohs held out for a priceless three points.
Next up, a crunch tie in Inchicore on Monday for the re-arranged tie with St Patrick’s Athletic.
Bohemians: Dean Delany, Roberto Lopes, Dave Mulcahy, Luke Byrne, Derek Pender (Michael Barker, 72), Keith Buckley, Ryan McEvoy, Andy Mulligan (Kevin Devaney, 83), Shane Fitzgerald (Karl Moore, 75), Dave Scully, Chris Lyons. Subs not used: Greg Murray, Michael Scott, Dwayne Wilson, Shane Murray.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley, Danny O’Connor, Danny Webster, Kevin Knight, Conor Earley (Ishmail Akinade, 76), Dean Zambra, Gary Dempsey (Shane O’Neill, 87), Paul Malone, Keiran ‘Marty’ Waters, Jason Byrne. Subs not used: Shane O’Connor, Stephen McGuiness, Daniel Joyce, Eoin Hyland, Daire Doyle.
Bohs Men of the Match: Dave Scully / Dave Mulcahy.