Derry City continued their surge towards the business end of the table, earning their third win in a week, against a very good Bray Wanderers side at the Brandywell on Monday night thanks to a winning goal from Ryan McBride.
Bray started the game without their talisman and top scorer Jason Byrne who pulled a hamstring before the game whilst Derry City welcomed back captain Barry Molloy into the centre of their midfield.
The game started off with a scrappy midfield battle, Bray being the team that had the edge in quality. The first real chance however came to Derry when Simon Madden put a teasing cross into the box which found Stephen McLaughlin who somehow diverted the ball over the bar from four yards.
It wasn't until the 23rd minute that another chance of note was created and Gerard Doherty did very well to divert a Dane Massey strike over his bar. Bray were certainly the team in the ascendency at this juncture and they were rewarded in the 43rd minute when some poor communication between Ryan McBride and Shane McEleney allowed Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters to slip between them and coolly slot the ball past a despairing Doherty in the Derry goal, giving Bray a well deserved lead at the interval.
The second half began much as the first had ended with Bray passing the ball about very neatly and they nearly doubled their advantage but for a good save by Doherty from a Sean Houston shot.
Declan Devine decided things needed shaken up in the 54th minute bringing on the experienced Owen Morrison for David McDaid who wasn't having one of his better games.
This galvanised the Candystripes, who were starting to dominate the midfield, and in the 60th minute Rory Patterson won a tackle and Patrick McEleney floated a beautiful cross into the back post where an unmarked Stephen McLaughlin looped a header past former Derry stopper Darren Quigley.
Derry had their tails up now and seven minutes later they doubled their tally with what turned out to be a controversial goal. Whilst Derry were on the attack a Bray player pulled up and the referee stopped the game to allow treatment.
From the bounce ball, Morrison nicked it to McLaughlin who powered through and smashed the ball bast Quigley, much to the annoyance of Pat Devlin who felt the ball may not have bounced.
This perceived injustice seemed to inspire the Seagulls as in the 72nd minute they were all square again. A badly defended short corner allowed a cross to be whipped in and Danny O'Connor placed a header past an on looking Gerard Doherty.
It was real end to end stuff at this point and Derry took the lead again in the 76th minute when a whipped corner found the head of Ryan McBride who made no mistake from six yards. The excitement seemed to have sapped the players’ energies in the last 10 minutes as neither side really had another meaningful effort.
All in all Bray will feel they probably deserved a point but Declan Devine will be delighted with the full compliment as his team rise to fourth in the table.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Ryan McBride, Shane McEleney, Dermot McCaffrey; Stephen McLaughlin, Barry Molloy, Ruaidhri Higgins, Patrick McEleney (Eddie McCallion 84); David McDaid (Owen Morrison 54), Rory Patterson (Mark Farren 93).
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Matthew Crossan, Ryan Curran, Brian McGroary.
Bookings: Molloy (51).
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; David Webster (Anthony Bolger 86), Adam Mitchell (Jonathan Kelty 81), Kevin Knight (Graham Kelly 75), Dane Massey; Danny O'Connor, Dean Zambra, Pierce Sweeney, Sean Houston; Kieran Marty Waters, John Mulroy.
Subs not used: Daire Doyle, Brian Kane, Shane O'Connor, Conor Early.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
ExtraTIme.ie Man of the Match: Stephen McLaughlin.