Bray head into the 2024 mid-season break firmly ensconced in the play-offs after a hard fought 1-0 triumph over Athlone. 
The Seagulls moved above the Midlanders up to third place – level on points but ahead on goal difference - in the Airtricity First Division standings after Thursday’s success at the Carlisle Grounds. 
On his 99th appearance for the club, goalkeeper Stephen McGuinness kept the clubs ninth clean sheet in all competitions. 
That was despite losing defender Paul Murphy to injury midway through the first period. Then his replacement – Jamie Duggan – went off injured early in the second half. 
From the team who lined-up in the defeat away to Treaty United, the hosts retained the same starting 11. 
The Midlanders arrived in Wicklow unbeaten in ten league games. 
But that run was ended by the vital score in the 27th minute. 
Shane Griffin sent over a corner from the left. Home skipper Kilian Cantwell appeared to be man-handled in the box to the ground. Referee Lucas Keating pointed to the spot. 
Cristian Magerusan stepped up to send Enda Minogue the wrong way from the penalty. 
Under the sunshine, Wanderers started brightly. Magerusan sent a glancing header wide in the sixth minute off Max Murphy’s centre from the right flank. 
With the visitors having offered little in terms of an attacking threat, it took a timely intervention by Cantwell on 34 to prevent Jamar Campion-Hinds breaking clear on goal. 
Within 20 seconds of the start of the second half, space opened up for Max Murphy to try his luck from 22-yards. 
Former Wanderer Minogue got down to save. Magerusan followed up close in but the netminder recovered to make a fantastic point-block block at the expense of a corner. 
The away side were thwarted twice in moments in the 52nd minute when Duggan blocked Dean Ebbe’s attempt. Then got back up in the box to deny Amardo Akeem Oakley off the rebound. 
Bray went close again in the 62nd minute. After Freddie Turley weaved his way into the penalty area off the right wing, Griffin’s shot on the turn was pushed out by Minogue. 
Twice in quick succession in the 70th minute the Green and White’s had the opportunities to put the result to bed. 
Guillermo Almirall linked with both Griffin and Magerusan before his low effort was smothered by the ‘Town stopper. 
Seconds later, Turley slipped in Max Murphy off the right. But his driven shot crashed back off the bar. 
With a quarter of an hour remaining, the Westmeath outfit went close to drawing level. Ebbe nodded down to sub Carl Mujaguzi. The sub then backheeled to the striker whose curled shot close in clipped the roof netting. 
 
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness; Max Murphy, Kilian Cantwell, Paul Murphy (Jamie Duggan 23; Kieran Cruise 56), Zach Nolan; Harry Groome, Darren Craven; Freddie Turley, Shane Griffin (Peter Grogan 79), Guillermo Almirall (Callum Thompson 79); Cristian Magerusan. 
 
Subs not used: Thomas Morgan, Zayd Abada, Conor Knight, Josh McGlone, Ben Clark. 
 
Booked: Cruise 64, Max Murphy 70, Magerusan 73, Grogan 85. 
 
Athlone Town: Enda Minogue; Amardo Akeem Oakley, Dylan Hand, German Fuentes Rodriguez, Brian Torre (Divine Izekor 80); Daniel McKenna, Noah van Geenen (Carl Mujaguzi half time); Jamar Campion-Hinds (Ruben Manuel Oliveria Ferreira 56), Aaron Connolly, Gideon Tetteh; Dean Ebbe. 
 
Subs not used: Shane Forbes, Oisin Duffy, Matthew Leal, Agbo Babatunde, Ciaran Nolan, Andrew Stuart Trainor. 
 
Referee: Lucas Keating (Cork). 
 
Mint + Man of the Match: Stephen McGuinness. 
 
Pictures: Dermot O’Brien.  
Bray Wanderers 1 Longford Town 1
 
Bray Wanderers 1 Longford Town 1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tagged as: Senior Team
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