Kerry FC 1-3 Bray Wanderers
By Ivan Hurley • Photos by Adam Kowalczyk
Kerry FC took on Bray Wanderers last night in front of a big crowd in Mounthawk Park. Pre-match sunshine was quickly met with heavy showers throughout the evening, but the strong winds which we have experienced right across the season to date were swapped for some gentle breezes as we tick into autumn.
With leading goal scorer Ryan Kelliher due to start, Kerry were dealt a blow in the warm up when he felt unwell. Following consultation with the club doctor, Ryan was excluded from the game and we await a further update on his condition.
It was a ferocious opening 20 minutes of the game where we had it all. The referee had barely blown the whistle to start the game when Bray were in front. A long ball down the centre of the Kerry defence was met by Mahdy who found keeper Arthur Nganou off his line and a tame header into the bottom corner had the Wicklow outfit in front in record time.
Not the start the home side wanted but Kerry were quickly back in it through a fantastic effort from Sean McGrath. A duel in the air between Leo Gaxha and Bray goalkeeper Matthew Connor was won by the latter but the ball fell kindly to McGrath outside the box. Battling two players, McGrath had to be pinpoint accurate to lob the ball into the empty net and draw the LOI newcomers level.
Bray were finding space down the left, with Len O’Sullivan creating chances in the Kerry box but nothing to trouble the Kerry goal. In fact, Kerry came the closest to grabbing the third goal of the game. Okwute’s ball into the box was met by the toe of McGrath who couldn’t guide the ball goal bound.
Barrett’s first yellow of the game allowed Craven to knock a 30 yard free off the bar midway through the half, Nganou getting a vital touch to keep the shot out of his net. But the talking point of the game came as we entered stoppage time. A second yellow for Barrett for a tackle with minimal contact sent him for an early shower and a big hill to climb for the hosts who went in at the interval level.
Bray showed intent from the word go in the second half and it was more of a fact of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ they would pick up a second goal. It was Mahdy who found himself in acres of space in the box and nodded home Walker’s cross to set the Wicklow outfit on route to victory.
And they doubled their lead just 3 minutes later as captain Darren Craven struck a superb free from the left edge of the box into the top corner of the Kerry net and it really was game over with 20 minutes on the clock.
To Kerry’s credit, the never say die attitude shun through once again and both Gaxha and Okwute came close before Cian Brosnan rattled the side of the post late on.
Next up for Kerry FC is a home meeting with Longford Town next Friday evening. There are now 7 games remaining in the 2023 season with 4 of those in Mounthawk Park
Kerry FC Team: Arthur Nganou; Sean Kennedy, Kevin Williams, Jonathan Hannafin, Ethan Kos, Sean O’Connell; Martin Coughlan, Cian Barrett; Sean McGrath, Leo Gaxha, Daniel Okwute Subs: Rob Vasiu for Kos (45), Cian Brosnan for Sean Kennedy (68), Ronan Teahan for Martin Coughlan (68)
Bray Wanderers Team: Matthew Connor; Max Murphy, Cole Omorehiomwan, Sean Quinn, Len O’Sullivan; Callum Thompson, Harry Groome, Darren Craven, Guillermo Almirall; Jake Walker, Yousef Mahdy Subs: Conor Crowley for Groome (68), Chris Lyons for Walker (68), Conor Davis for Mahdy (68), Conor Knight for Thompson (84), Thomas Morgan for Craven (87)