Last Friday, UCD AFC traveled South to meet Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds for a league match for the first time in six years. Despite coming off the back of a convincing 3-1 victory against Shamrock Rovers II the week prior, the Students went into their clash with Bray Wanderers having not won a league match away from the UCD Bowl since their 3-0 triumph over Drogheda United in August 2018.
In mixed form, UCD went to Bray with the hopes of ending their disappointing away run, but UCD will have to wait until they play Cabinteely in September for another chance to do so, as they lost 2-0 to Bray Wanderers.
In many ways, the first half was the calm before the storm that would be the second half. Despite Bray netting a goal in both halves of the match, thanks to two strikes from 16 year old Darragh Lynch, most of the action, particularly for UCD, would come in the closing half of the match. In the first half, both sides looked somewhat slow, and neither team was demonstrating the quality they were capable of.
Bray’s opener came from a back-pass gone wrong, whilst neither side were able to create any clear chances in the first half beyond that. UCD’s clearest chance of the half came 20 minutes in, as Liam Kerrigan picked up the ball a few yards outside of the box, before cutting in and striking the ball against the bar. Beyond that, in the first half, UCD only got close to goal from a few crosses, and a penalty claim right on the stroke of half time.
The second half, however, is where things picked up on all fronts. UCD dominated much of the play, especially in midfield and on the right side of their attack, consistently pushing Bray Wanderers back into their own box. Similarly to the first half, UCD just weren’t able to turn their attacks into goals. UCD had the ball in Bray’s final third almost every other minute, but the Students were unable to put the ball in the back of the net.
Nevertheless, UCD pushed on, until Bray Wanderers’ Lynch beat his man to a header inside the box to make it 2-0, and net his second of the night. Tensions started to boil over, and Bray Wanderers lunged into unnecessary challenges, leading to the UCD players being visibly infuriated with refereeing decisions, as well as the general run of play.
The visitors were unable to turn their swathes of possession and attacking chances into goals, but there are plenty of positives for the Students to take from the match.
When things go right, UCD are better on the ball than almost anyone in the league, and they have athleticism and pace on their side for the most part as well. There’s no shortage of technical or athletic ability for UCD by any means. However, being a generally younger team, UCD’s lack of experience compared to many of their counterparts can result in errors and lack of concentration.
UCD go into their next match against Athlone Town tonight with a chance to continue their winning home form. Kickoff is at 19:45 at the UCD Bowl.
Nicolas Murphy – Entertainment & Lifestyle Editor