If Bray Wanderers stay up this year it will surely rank as the greatest escape by a club famous for pulling off great escapes. Is what was seemingly impossible after ten games – the club only had a single point, from an unlikely opening-day draw with Dundalk – now a possibility? I’d say it’s still more possible than probable, but the belief is there in the squad and amongst the fans.
Friday’s 0-0 draw with high-flying Waterford – the second draw the sides have played out in a month at the Carlisle Grounds – saw Wanderers reach 12 points from 23 games. In the 13 games since [and including] the victory over Shamrock Rovers at the Carlisle Grounds on 16 April, Bray have picked up 11 points.
Our shorter-term form – over the last 5 games – is better than that of both Limerick and Bohemians, the sides that sit immediately above us in the table at the mid-season break [both those sides have two draws and three defeats from their last 5 outings while Bray have a draw and a win].
We are now only 6 points from Limerick, the closest we have been to the relegation play-off spot since much earlier in the season. Another 11 points from the 13 games remaining when we resume may well see us into that relegation play-off position.
Bray’s first game back after the mid-season break is away to Limerick. This is a real six-pointer. Win that, and the home tie against Limerick in September, and then it’s just a case of matching their results each other week. Possible? Yes. Probable? Becoming more probable, let’s just say.
The key is to not give up hope. The English side I support, Rochdale, were 11 points adrift and at the foot of the League One table quite late on in the season just finished, yet they put together a sequence of results to close out that would have had them in the promotion play-offs if it had been replicated over the entire campaign. In the end they survived on the final day. The belief was always there.
Friday’s game and it was a game Bray could even have won. They produced a gutsy performance and were well worth their point. Having lost heavily in Tallaght the week before, the team showed they can get over setbacks. The new signings from Crumlin United – Sean Harding and Craig Walsh – did well and are welcome additions to the squad. Former Wanderer Ismahil Akinade had a couple of decent chances for Waterford but didn’t convert them.
The fixtures after the restart won’t come as thick and fast they came in the first part of the season. This should work to Bray’s advantage. More time to rest between games. There’s still the FAI Cup to come as well, always something that excites Bray fans given our 2 wins in the competition in 1990 and 1999. There’s the Irn Bru Scottish Challenge Cup adventure as well, for the second year running. Bring it all on!