St. Patrick’s Athletic picked up their third victory of the season on Friday evening as they overcame Bray Wanderers 1-0 at the Carlisle Grounds. Chris Forrester’s brilliantly taken first-half goal was enough for Liam Buckley’s side to continue their excellent recent record by the seaside and get back to winning ways after Tuesday’s defeat to Dundalk.
In a game which lacked any real quality, Forrester’s delicate lob mid-way through the first period was worthy of claiming all three points for the visitors and close the gap on the teams above them after a stuttering start to the campaign.
Liam Buckley opted to start Anto Flood in the lone striker role but he hardly saw any of the ball in the opening exchanges as both sides scrapped for possession in midfield. Pats dominated proceedings but struggled to break down the five-man Wanderers midfield and were largely restricted to set-pieces for a sight of goal.
It took twenty minutes for either goalkeeper to be called into action as Killian Brennan’s free-kick was punched away acrobatically by the returning Darren Quigley. It was the spark Pats needed as they stepped up the intensity and were duly rewarded.
With Bray happy to give the visitors possession in their own half, Kenny Browne had time to pick out Forrester on the left with a brilliant diagonal ball and the midfielder needed no second invitation to run in on goal and lob Quigley from a tight angle.
Moments later, Browne could have got on the score-sheet himself but his header from Conan Byrne’s corner struck Webster from close range.
The half-time interval didn’t alter the flow of the game as Liam Buckley’s side continued to boss things but couldn’t score the second goal to kill Bray off. Killian Brennan and Forrester linked up well down the left but Flood saw his effort deflected onto the post with Quigley left rooted to the spot.
In a bid to get his side back into the game, Pat Devlin made all three of his changes and the introduction of striker Ishmahil Akinade almost paid immediate dividends. Brennan gave the ball away in midfield before Kieran Marty Waters set the substitute through on goal but his low effort was brilliantly saved by Clarke with his feet. Moments later, the teenager had another sight of goal but he dragged his shot wide.
Devlin’s bold move to free up his midfield meant it gave Pats more space to get at the Bray defence but they failed to take advantage of their opportunities. Fagan was introduced for Flood but he wasted a glorious chance to seal victory in the closing minutes from a deep Forrester cross.
The Seagulls tried to apply some late pressure but Pats remained organised and in the end comfortably saw the remaining minutes out without alarm.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; Eoin Hyland (Daire Doyle 58), David Webster, Peter Thomas, Kevin Knight; John Mulroy, Paul Malone (Ismahil Akinade 58), Dean Zambra, Gary Dempsey (Shane O’Neill 58), Kieran Marty Waters; Jason Byrne.
Subs not used: Conor Earley, Paul Moffatt, Ed McDonagh, Sean Holmes.
Booked: Malone (21), Knight (73)
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O'Brien, Kenny Browne (Conor Kenna 76’), Jake Carroll, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, Greg Bolger, Killian Brennan (Sean Gannon 88), John Russell, Chris Forrester; Anto Flood (Christy Fagan 76’).
Subs not used: Dave Ryan, Conor Murphy, Jordan Keegan, Stephen Maher.
Referee: Paul Tuite.
Attendance: 700 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Chris Forrester (St Patrick's Ath) – As well as scoring the winning goal, he was at the heart of all Pats’ play and was superb throughout.