St. Patricks athletic 1 (Kelly 43) Bray Wanderers 2 (Pender 58, Douglas 61)
Premier Division, Richmond Park, 06 Sep 2016
Well may Dublin TDs complain about the predations of the local Seagulls, but the three points Bray take back to Wicklow tonight were fairly earned.
Despite going behind to a late first-half strike by former Bray man Graham Kelly, the visitors came out invigorated after the break, and struck twice in rapid succession either side of the hour.
Ger Pender took the first well when an error by Brendan Clarke caused confusion in the goal area, and Hugh Douglas got upfield again to take advantage of poor defending three minutes later.
Despite several efforts that should have produced at least an equaliser for the hosts, Wanderers held out for a priceless relegation cushion.
Pats had early chances, notably featuring Conan Byrne, who headed over after a decent second minute cross from Rory Feely, and minutes later saw his own cross blocked and cleared by the Bray defence.
Dylan Connolly, unsurprisingly, was first to show with purpose for the visitors, with a ball given him by Pender, and was heading for a man-to-man with Clarke before Feely intervened. A counter-attack was spearheaded by Byrne, but his cross for Mark Timlin was slid away by Douglas.
Ten minutes in, a speculative 35m volley by Christy Fagan disappeared from the danger area without threatening.
Shortly after the quarter hour, Bray’s first real chance of the encounter came from Kevin Lynch’s fine attacking ball up the left, Pender reaching it ahead of Feely, but Clarke claimed the final ball, as he did moments later when Connolly got through the defence and shot straight at him.
Mark Timlin brought Cherrie into action with a good-looking free, but his next dead-ball a little before the half hour was wastefully high and wide. And it was Douglas who denied the Pats winger at the back post minutes later.
As the ball swung to this end and that, Douglas’s effort only won a corner to no effect, and a Lynch cross reached Douglas in the air which is where he sent the ball.
Conor Kenna got back to clear when Fagan was trying to take advantage of the Bray skipper’s own error, and another Timlin free was cleared after hitting the wall.
With less than ten minutes to the break, Lynch embarked on a threatening run up the left onto a nice feed from Tim Clancy, but though he forced a corner the home defence cleared easily.
And within minutes Connolly was marauding again, passing Feely to face Clarke whose fine save resulted in a corner from which the Pats keeper did well to stop Douglas’s header on the line.
But then came the unexpected breakthrough for the home side, starting with forward Jamie McGrath taking possession inside the area, where following a couple of failed attempts from Timlin, the ball came back to the 19-year-old who laid off to the oncoming Graham Kelly who crashed his effort into the back of the net, his first goal since moving from the Carlisle Grounds at the end of last year.
The Saints looked dangerous at the outset of the second period, with Fagan crossing for Timlin where a free out saved the visitors, and Kelly shot on the turn straight at Cherrie.
Gradually, though, the threat faded and gaps began to appear at the back. Crosses were dealt with only hesitantly, and an opening for Bray began to look inevitable.
Then, after Clarke had fumbled the ball in a goalmouth scramble, it eventually dropped in front of Pender, who used the bounce to set up his shot, and fired past Clarke to level the tie.
Similarly, when Ian Bermingham failed to connect properly with a loose pass from Michael Barker, Douglas spotted an opportunity and rode the ball into the area where he had only to poke it home.
It took the home side some time to gather themselves after the sudden reverse, and their first attacking sorties were limited to shots from outside the area.
Byrne volleyed high and side from a corner, as did Ger O’Brien who shot straight – perhaps too accurately – at Cherrie a couple of minutes later
With just over a quarter of an hour to go, Bray might have made it three had there been anyone on hand to reach Lynch’s well worked cross into the area.
But as Pats’ attempts to respond intensified, their accuracy seemed to diminish, Byrne shooting wide, and McGrath, Lee Desmond and Fagan failing to test Cherrie with shots that were easy for the Bray keeper.
Two minutes from the end of regulation time, Bray substitute Chris Lyons went clear through the defence, and should have gained another for the visitors, but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
Deep in time added, a final corner for the hosts was too long, missing the massed heads in the area.
Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie; 21 Tim Clancy, 2 Hugh Douglas, 4 Conor Kenna (c), 19 Kevin Lynch; 3 John Sullivan (yc); 10 Karl Moore, 8 Mark Salmon, 22 Darragh Noone, 16 Dylan Connolly; 17 Gerard Pender
Subs: 5 Alan McNally (for Sullivan 92), 11 Jason Marks (for Connolly 86), 15 Alan Kehoe, 24 Seán Harding, 23 Gareth McDonagh, 27 Chris Lyons (for Pender 78, yc), 40 Lee Stacey (gk)
St Patricks Athletic: 1 Brendan Clarke; 2 Gerard O’Brien (c), 13 Rory Feely, 12 Lee Desmond, 3 Ian Bermingham (yc); 22 Michael Barker, 14 Graham Kelly; 7 Conan Byrne, 19 Jamie McGrath, 11 Mark Timlin; 9 Christopher Fagan
Subs: 10 Daniel Corcoran, 18 Sam Verdon, 20 Billy Dennehy (for Timlin 73), 21 Darragh Markey (for McGrath 85), 25 Patrick Jennings (gk), 27 Steven Kinsella, Jonathan Lunney
Referee: Derek Tomney
Compiled by Mícheál Ó hUanacháin