If Bray Wanderers finish in this season’s First Division play-off positions, then they might look back to Friday’s win over Longford as one of the key milestone on the journey.
Wanderers had gone ahead early on through Derek Daly but Longford levelled before half-time. With the clock ticking down the game looked like finishing 1-1, only for Luke Nolan to see an attempted header back to Gabriel Sava go over the advancing keeper and into the Wanderers goal. Advantage Longford. Would there be time for Bray to recover a point?
To say that there was an exciting finish to this game would be an understatement. It was a match that had a couple of acts yet to play out. Killian Cantwell scored his debut goal for Bray with two minutes left on the clock to equalize, getting on the end of a Dean O’Halloran flick-on from a Paul Keegan corner.
Then two minutes into injury time another Keegan corner was fired into the Longford penalty area and what happened next will go down in Wanderers folklore. Hughie Douglas, The Bray Viking, rose high and headed powerfully into the Longford net.Keegan supplied the missile and Hughie directed it on target.
Hughie had only come off the bench at the end of the game. Yet he had the focus and determination to help his team snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A heroic performance. Last week The Bray Bomber paraded her boxing belts on Bray seafront. This week The Bray Viking delivered his own knockout punch to a shell-shocked Longford.
The previous match had seen Hughie come forward at the end of the game against Shelbourne and cause the Shels defence a few nervous moments as they hung on for a victory. It was almost as if he was getting in some practice for what would transpire against Longford.
So the First Division now heads into the mid-season break. The top six remained unchanged in terms of the positions, but the dynamic has certainly changed. Shelbourne remain odds-on for automatic promotion after a win over Drogheda at Tolka Park. Longford and Drogheda stay second and third respectively despite the losses to Bray and Shels. A draw away to Wexford keeps Limerick in the final play-off spot and although Cabinteely stayed fifth after a draw in Athlone, Bray’s win means they are breathing down their necks.