Another matchday came this week as Kerry started the first of two home games in two weeks back at home in Mount Hawk Park. This week Kerry faced Bray Wanderers. The last time the two faced each other was on Matchday Two when Bray went out 3-1 winners. Since then, Kerry have faced many tough battles in their first year in the senior first division. Going into the game, Bray sat in the fourth position of the league and won just one of their last six games, most recently winning last week at home to Finn Harps.
The home side comes into the fixture in the best way possible. Kerry FC will have fresh confidence in the way they play after securing their first-ever Senior League of Ireland first- division win last week away against Athlone Town which ended 3-2. Especially being back at home, they would get an outstanding reception from the crowd on the night, and rightly so.
In his program notes, Kerry manager, Billy Dennehy said he was delighted with the unbelievable character the players showed to get the win, but he said getting a winning result in front of the home crowd is something that everyone involved craves.
If the lads could put in half the performance that they did last week against Athlone, they would surely be within a chance of getting back-to-back victories. In their minds, the season starts now and there is no better way to start it than with another win at home to Bray Wanderers.
The start of the game was very cagey between the two sides. No real chances were had in the opening minutes with both teams having a fair share of the possession. As the half went on Kerry’s possession grew and they started to put a few passes together, getting more comfortable on the ball. Kerry’s first chance came in the sixteenth minute when a long throw from the left-hand side by Sam Aledesanusi was headed on by Ryan Kelliher. The effort tested Alex Moody in the Bray goal, but he gathered it comfortably.
There were few clear-cut chances in the opening exchanges from either side. It looked like Kerry were just one well-timed pass away from being in on goal, Bray countered that by playing a very high but well-structured defensive line, catching the home side offside numerous times.
The first big chance of the half for Bray came in the thirty-fifth minute. Dane Massey received the ball just on the left side of the area, his left-footed shot was struck well, and his effort was saved very convincingly by Aaron O’Sullivan in the Kerry goal. The half was very even and both sides tested each other in different periods of the forty-five.
Kerry had a few opportunities towards the end of the half. The first of which started with a tackle won by Ronan Teahan in midfield, a pass from Sean McGrath over the top went out to the right wing to Ryan Kelliher. Kelliher played it back inside to McGrath who got his shot off and it sailed just over the center of the goal.
Just on the halftime mark, another corner delivered from Leo Gaxha reached Sam Aladesanusi who headed down for Kevin Williams inside the six-yard box, but his effort went wide of the post.
Even with the half being as even as it was, it would be the traveling side who would strike first on the night. A pass sprayed out to the right wing was received by Darren Craven. His cross into the box was saved and pushed out by Aaron O’Sullivan, but unfortunately, it landed at the feet of Harry Groome who slotted home to make it 1-0 to Bray.
Kerry struggled to create anything in the second half and were being outperformed in midfield, which made it exceedingly tough to get themselves on level terms. Even though Bray scored just six minutes after the second half started it seemed to kill off any momentum Kerry had and effectively killed the game for the Kingdom.
Leo Gaxha tried to create something with sixteen minutes to go on the right-hand side but his superb ball into the opposition’s box was met by nobody and sailed away for a throw-out. From then on Bray were just running down the clock and the game was put away from Kerry with nine minutes to go when Wanderers were awarded a penalty for a handball in the box from Ryan Kelliher. The Kerry team and bench protested but referee Kevin O’Sullivan did not hesitate, and the decision stood. Ben Feeney stepped up and buried it into the bottom right corner and sealed a 2-0 win for Bray Wanderers.
Kerry played very well and showed the confidence from last week’s win but unfortunately, the second half performance would not match and is something they will need to work on. They get a great chance to do so when they are back at home again next at home to Wexford. Hopefully, they can get back on track with a win in that one.
Kerry FC Team:
30. Aaron O’Sullivan, 2. Rob Vasiu, 18. Samuel Aladesanusi, 15. Kevin Williams (C), 23. Ronan Teahen, 17. Nathan Gleeson, 22. Cian Barrett, 13. Togor Silong, 10. Leo Gaxha, 9. Ryan Kelliher, 7. Sean McGrath.
Subs: Callan Scully, Stephen McCarthy, Matt Keane, Alex Ainscough, Cianan Cooney, Graham O’Reilly, Kennedy Amechi.
Bray Wanderers Team:
1. Alex Moody, 5. David Webster (C) (’67 Jack Hudson), 6. Luka Lovic, 8. Harry Groome (Goal ’51), 10. Conor Davis (’67 Callum Thompson), 11. Gerard Shortt (’85 Conor Knight), 12. Cole Omorehiomwan, 14. Dane Massey (’85 Len O’ Sullivan), 15. Ben Feeney (Goal ’81), 17. Darren Craven(’75 Eoin Farrell), 18. Max Murphy.