Bray earned their first league win of the season – at the 11th attempt – thanks to Ronan Coughlan’s second half goal as it was a disastrous trip to the seaside for Shamrock Rovers.
Stephen Bradley’s men made it three defeats in a row as they finished the game at the Carlisle Grounds with ten men after Dan Carr picked up two yellow cards in 16 second half minutes.
Admittedly the windy and wet conditions made it difficult for both teams but if Rovers supporters wanted to see a reaction from their team’s 2-1 Dublin derby loss against Bohs it wasn’t the one they wanted to see as the Hoops seemed devoid of creativity.
The only change for either starting line up from last Friday was Luke Byrne dropping out of the Rovers starting XI. Sean Kavanagh moved into left back with Joel Coulstrain coming into the team.
Both Coulstrain and Graham Burke, on two separate occasions, blasted the ball over the Bray bar. The only shot on target in the first 45 minutes came from Rovers with a Brandon Miele freekick on the half hour mark pushed away by Aaron Dillon after Hugh Douglas took down Carr.
The home side meanwhile put more pressure on their opponents even if they couldn’t trouble Kevin Horgan in the Rovers goal in the opening half. Ethan Boyle flashed a boot at a Dan McKenna cross on seven minutes to give Bray the first corner of the game.
The Bray captain, and former Rovers player, Gary McCabe took the set piece with a touch from Douglas just taking the ball over Horgan’s cross bar. It would have been highly controversial if it had been a bit lower as it seemed that Douglas had flashed a hand at it.
Bray were forced into a first half change Aaron Greene made way for Daniel Kelly. Bray boss Graham Kelly – who had Martin Russell sitting beside him in the dugout - moved Ronan Coughlin to play up front on his own.
There was a big shout for a Bray penalty on 36 minutes when off a McCabe shot the ball bounced off Ally Gilchrist’s hand but it would have been harsh for Tomás Connolly to give the home side a spotkick.
It remained scoreless at the break although the Hoops had gone close in first half injury time. Coulstrain’s cross after the run the length of the pitch was chested behind by Conor Kenna, Boyle met Burke’s cross with a glancing header that just looped over the Bray bar.
Inexplicably Rovers captain Ronan Finn played Coughlin in on goal on 53 minutes with an awfully misjudged pass and Coughlin stuck the ball through the legs of the advancing Horgan for the winner – it was Bray’s first shot on target.
Bradley was quick to make the switch bringing Gary Shaw on to join Carr up front as the Hoops went 4-4-2 but they wouldn’t have two up front for too much longer.
It went from bad to worse for the Hoops as Carr threw a leg out on Rhys Gorman after fouling him and received a second yellow having being booked three minutes into the second half for a foul on Kenna.
Finn almost made amends for his earlier error as it was Kevin Lynch’s turn with a short back pass but Dillon smothered the chance. At either end these chances were being handed to the opposition as Shaw got robbed in midfield with McCabe driving a shot destined for the top corner only for a strong Horgan hand to push the ball over the bar.
Bradley brought on 17-year-old Brandon Kavanagh for his league debut as he switched to three at the back in an attempt to get something from the game. A Shaw header was kept out by Dillon with a quarter of an hour ago and a Burke shot whistled by Dillon’s post but that was as close as they came to an equaliser.
The boos rang out from the Rovers fans at the final whistle with the Hoops’ fifth defeat from six matches away from Tallaght Stadium, their third straight loss in the Carlisle Grounds, as the result moved Bray to within five points of Limerick who sit above them in ninth in the table.
Bray Wanderers: Aaron Dillon; Dan McKenna, Hugh Douglas, Conor Kenna, Kevin Lynch; Ronan Coughlan (Ger Pender 73), Rhys Gorman, Paul O’Conor, Corey Galvin (Jake Kelly 89); Gary McCabe ©; Aaron Greene (Daniel Kelly 26).
Subs not used: Evan Moran, Sean Heaney, Andy McGovern, Dylan Hayes,
Booked: Ronan Coughlin (55), Corey Galvin (78), Kevin Lynch (88)
Shamrock Rovers: Kevin Horgan; Ethan Boyle, Ally Gilchrist, Lee Grace, Sean Kavanagh (Brandon Kavanagh 72); Greg Bolger, Ronan Finn; Joel Coustrain (Gary Shaw 55), Graham Burke, Brandon Miele; Dan Carr.
Subs not used: Tomer Chencinski, Joey O’Brien, Roberto Lopes, David McAllister, Aaron Bolger.
Booked: Joel Coustrain (21), Sean Kavanagh (44), Dan Carr (48 and 64), Ethan Boyle (90).
Sent Off: Dan Carr (64).
Referee: Tomás Connolly
Extratime.ie Man of the match: Gary McCabe (Bray Wanderers)