Keith Buckley: Defensive improvements essential for European challenge

The Bray Wanderers full-back knows what needs to be done to stay in the hunt for a place in Europe

BY Cian Roche 14:40 Friday 5 May 2017, 14:40 5 May 2017

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Bray Wanderers defender Keith Buckley says his side will need to tighten up at the back if they are to challenge for European places.

The Seagulls are third in the Premier Division, behind champions Dundalk on goal difference. Harry Kenny's side have racked an impressive seven wins from their first 11 games, but have managed to keep just one clean sheet this season.

Bray host second from bottom St Patrick's Athletic on Friday night and Buckley says that to close ground on leaders Cork City, his side will need to be switched on.

"We were conceding one or two goals a game easily in the first period of the season," he tells Newstalk.com.

"That’s something we have to look at. Look at Cork for instance. They have seven clean sheets out of 11. That’s what wins you leagues and that’s what keeps you up there."

Cork have won all 11 of their opening Premier Division games to sit 12 points clear at the top of the table. John Caulfield's side have been in scintillating form since the start of the season, scoring 28 goals and conceding just five.

One of those goals conceded came from Bray's Derek Foran during their 2-1 win over Harry Kenny's side at Turner's Cross and their attacking output is one that Buckley says should be commended.

"We don’t just have one way of playing. Especially when we’re away from home, we can shut up shop like we showed against Derry City and Dundalk.

"Games are there for the taking for us. Even though they took the early lead, we know we have those attacking outlets up the pitch that are able to score goals out of nothing."

Bray Wanderers' Keith Buckley and Aaron Greene celebrate their third goal against Dundalk at Oriel Park last month. Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Europe

Considering Bray's strong finish to last season under Kenny, it came as no surprise that they have made such a fast start. Former Shamrock Rovers forward Gary McCabe and Dylan Connolly have been sharp up front for the Wicklow side, but Buckley hasn't been surprised by the progress made.

"I was thinking that if we got five or six wins, that’d be a good start from the first round of games - but we've won seven. We were 2-0 up against Bohs away, that could have been another three points on the board.

"We also beat Derry and Dundalk away, which not a lot of people would have expected. In the second round of games, if we were to get another six wins and five losses in the next two rounds of games, I could see us challenging for Europe."

Their result at Oriel Park was probably the highlight to their season up until now, but Buckley isn't getting carried away with Dundalk's recent form.

"They’re still a quality side. When we went down there, we thought we could play the way we usually do on the road - on the counter-attack.

"But Dundalk will come strong, but they’ve lost some big players - Andy Boyle is a huge loss for them. Daryl [Horgan] is gone as well, he’s almost irreplaceable."

Bray welcome St. Pat's to the Carlisle Grounds on Friday evening (KO 7.45pm).

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