Gregg back to break Bohs bid
IF BRAY Wanderers keeper Matt Gregg needed an indication of the task ahead of him when he lines out for the Wicklow club against title-chasing Bohemians tonight, he needs to look no further than the Seagulls' official website.
"Bray have kept just one clean sheet against Bohemians in 29 meetings between the two sides in all competitions," reads the official team bulletin for the game sent out by the always-reliable press officer of the club. "Bray have failed to keep a clean sheet against Bohemians at Dalymount Park in their last 18 meetings at the Phibsboro venue.
"No pressure on me for tonight so," jokes Gregg, the experienced keeper who will stand between Bohs and the three points they need to stay in touch with league leaders Shamrock Rovers. "I always thought it was hard to go to Dalymount and keep a clean sheet, but when you have those stats read back to you it's even more depressing.
"I don't think I ever kept a clean sheet at Dalymount, even when I played for Bohs. Bray have a bad record there over the years. No clean sheets in 18 games at Dalymount looks bad but all records have to be broken at some stage so maybe tonight will be our night.
"A draw is really no good to them at this stage of the season so I am sure they will come at us all guns blazing and it's up to me and the lads in front of me to keep them out," added Gregg, who was back-up keeper to Brian Murphy in the Bohs side which won the league title last season.
"But we have a nice run of form behind us as well and I think we will go to Dalymount in confident mood. The pressure's on Bohs, not us. Our season won't be defined by the game but if Bohs lose it'll make it almost possible for them to win back the league, so we can use that as well.
"We're unbeaten in five games now, we've had a couple of wins and kept a few clean sheets as we have been very sharp in recent games," added Gregg. "We have had a good run, but the good results have done from the teams around us -- we beat Dundalk twice, we beat Galway and drew with UCD.
"But we have some very tough games ahead of us before the end of the season, everyone we play against is playing for something. We have Rovers on the last day of the season. In between that we have Sligo and Pats, who are trying to qualify for Europe. And Drogheda are trying to get ahead of us in the table, so they will be tough," added Gregg, who made his league debut for Bray back in 2001.
"We could play a big part in whoever wins the league this season," he added. "As a former Bohs player I would probably prefer to see them win it as I still have some friends there, but I'd still love us to get a win there tonight.
"But we're not bothered about anyone else. We're focused on getting as many points as we can, making sure we avoid the automatic relegation spot and seeing if we can catch Galway."
The 31-year-old started the season with Dundalk but grew frustrated at his position as back-up to Peter Cherrie and left Oriel Park mid-season to move back to his first Irish club, Bray. And the former Crystal Palace man has been a key figure in Bray's revival under Pat Devlin, one of three experienced players added to the squad in mid-season who have helped a talented but young Bray side turn their fortunes around and give themselves hope of survival.
"Bray have some brilliant young players, lads like Jake Kelly and Shane O'Neill and John Molroy are top class, but they are young and don't have the experience of dealing with a very tough relegation battle," he says.
"In the last few weeks myself, Danny O'Connor and Gary Dempsey came in. I think we have helped the younger lads, just giving them that bit of advice or encouragement. It's worked as we have put a nice run together.
"I have really enjoyed being back at Bray, it was my first club and it was an honour to come back here," added Gregg, who mixes up his duties at Bray by running a coaching course for young goalkeepers (www.just4keepers.ie).