Shelbourne left the Carlisle Grounds with three points on Friday night after edging out Bray Wanderers 3-2 in what was an action-packed night under the lights, lacking in quality though it was.
The first real effort of an even opening period came from the visiting team on the ten-minute mark. Kevin Dawson gathered the ball and hit a powerful effort, but Bray goalkeeper Darren Quigley watched the ball go safely wide of the post.
Red hot Shels striker Philip Hughes was the next to threaten. He got on the end of a David Cassidy corner but did not get sufficient contact and his glancing header went well wide.
Bray’s John Mulroy and Kieran Marty Waters looked sharp but they could not create a clear chance for their side and it was Philly Hughes who got the next sight of goal at the other end.
Daryl Kavanagh found journeyman Hughes in the box with a sliderule pass and the striker took the ball around Quigley. His effort, however, could only find the side netting from a difficult angle.
It was end-to-end and John Mulroy was the first Bray player to make Shels’ goalkeeper Chris Bennion sweat, chancing a cheeky lob from distance after a lapse in concentration from Andy Boyle gave him possession. But the home crowd sighed as his effort landed on the roof of the net.
Bray should have been level a few moments later when an Adam Hanlon corner found debutante Pat Seery totally unmarked, but the former Bohemians player could not get his header on target.
But it was the Dublin side that took the lead on the 28 minute mark. A Lorcan Fitzgerald cross fooled Bray defender Kevin Knight and the ball found its way to David Cassidy who finished with aplomb from just outside the area, cheekily chipping Quigley.
It was almost 2-0 a minute later when Kevin Dawson found Paddy Kavanagh in the area. Kavanagh beat Quigley but Dane Massey was there to sweep up the danger.
Both teams opened up the opposing defences at will as the half progressed but it was a mistake from Brian Shorthall that allowed Bray to snatch an equaliser.
Defender Shorthall miscontrolled a bouncing ball, giving the ever-lively Waters possession. The Seagulls star hit a wonderful effort with his left peg past Bennion to make it 1-1.
The first half was not over there though, as Philly Gorman put Shels ahead again just before the half. He finished a Hughes square ball from close range with the Wanderers defence at sea.
And the home team ended the half a goal and a man down as Waters’ hot head got the better of him. He was heading for a yellow card after a late challenge but was goaded into raising his hands by Gareth Mathews, who duly went down a la Rivaldo versus Turkey in the 2002 World Cup — and the Bray goal scorer got a red for his troubles.
Chasing the visitors, Bray went three at the back in the second half and left enough space for Philly Hughes to be dangerous. The veteran hit the bar just minutes after the restart when he found himself in space at the edge of the box.
But Bray made it 2-2 just seconds later. A Kevin Knight cross saw Bennion flapping under pressure from Jason Byrne, and a very impressive John Mulroy drilled home the loose ball from about nine yards.
Bennion was at sea again shortly after, appearing to call for a cross only to back off and allow Byrne space to shoot. The former Shelbourne star could only hit it straight at the flailing keeper though.
Philly Gorman was next to test Bray but ‘keeper Darren Quigley pulled off a good save to his left to keep his team in the game.
However, it was a mistake from the home team’s stopper that allowed Paddy Kavanagh to get the winner. Quigley jumped to punch away a Gareth Mathews cross, but it only went as far as Kavanagh, who blasted home from eight yards.
Bray tried to get back in the game but it was not to be and neither manager will be happy with hour their team’s defended but one, certainly, will be happy with three valuable away points.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley: Shane O’Connor, Pat Seery, Dane Massey, Kevin Knight (Daire Doyle, 68); Adam Hanlon (Jonathan Kelty, 85), Dean Zambra, Kevin O’Connor, John Mulroy, Kieran Marty Waters; Jason Byrne (Lee Dixon, 75).
Subs not used: Brian Kane, Graham Kelly, Sean Hurly, Brendan King.
Booked: Knight (61), Mulroy (87).
Sent off: Waters (45+1).
Shelbourne: Chris Bennion; Gareth Mathews, Andy Boyle, Brian Shorthall (Stephen Paisley, 64), Lorcan Fitzgerald; Dave Cassidy, Stephen Hurly (Brendan McGill, 74), Kevin Dawson, Paddy Kavanagh; Philip Gorman (Paul Byrne, 86), Philip Hughes
Subs not used: Dean Delany, Conan Byrne, Sean Byrne, John Sullivan.
Booked: Kavanagh (38), Gorman (42), Mathews (45+1), Philip Hughes (82).
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Attendance: 850 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: John Mulroy. He was immense in the first half, and was his team’s leading light as they faded in the second.