Paul Byrne struck even later than his namesake Stuart as Bray Wanderers sealed their first win of the season in the most dramatic of circumstances against Saint Patrick's Athletic at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night. Jake Kelly's 74th-minute penalty looked to have earned the points for the hosts before both Byrnes traded goals deep into injury-time.
On a night of high drama both on and off the pitch, after a 40-minute delay due to floodlight failure, Bray finally broke the deadlock 16 minutes from time when Kelly was upended by goalkeeper Gary Rogers inside the area before dusting himself down to convert the spot-kick. In the fourth of six added minutes, however, it appeared that Stuart Byrne had rescued a point for St. Pat's when he headed in from 25-yards. But in a further twist, Paul Byrne connected with Dane Massey's free-kick with only eight seconds remaining to seal a vital victory.
In an even encounter throughout, the first opening of the night fell to the hosts on five minutes. Kelly and Byrne combined, with the latter running at David Partridge before getting into the visiting area and firing goalwards. However, Rogers was equal to the effort as he touched the ball behind. On ten minutes, the Saints had their first chance when Mark Quigley ran on to Kyle Moran's flick, however, the striker failed to fire quickly enough with his final effort coming from an acute angle. However, it still forced 'keeper Chris O’Connor into a sharp save as he tipped over.
After a quiet period, it was again the turn of Bray to threaten on the half hour. David Webster’s through ball found Byrne 25-yards out and, after turning Jason Gavin, he fired at goal, only to see his shot easily saved by Rogers. The second half was delayed for 40 minutes because of floodlight failure, but when it finally resumed, Bray started the livelier with Byrne going close four minutes after the restart. Derek Foran hooked the ball forward from his own half and Byrne ran on to it, however, his first-time shot from 25-yards went over the crossbar.
On 53 minutes, St. Pat's defender Damian Lynch collected Quigley's pass on the left-hand side of the Bray box and cut inside, turning past two defenders, before forcing O'Connor into a save low to his right. Seemingly on course for a scoreless draw, the match suddenly sprung to life with just under 20 minutes remaining. First, the visitors thought they had taken the lead in the 72nd minute when Lynch's free from the right was steered home by Quigley. However, the referee disallowed the striker's effort after the linesman raised his flag.
Within moments, Bray's resulting free was launched downfield by O'Connor and picked up by Kelly, who ran into the Saints box and was tripped by Rogers, who had rushed off his line. Wanderers were duly awarded a penalty and Kelly himself stepped up to fire home. St. Pat's then began to press the Bray defence with substitutes John Lester and Glen Fitzpatrick at the heart of their forward movement. The best chance they had came with four minutes left as Lester's free from the right resulted in a game of head tennis in the Bray area, before the ball finally landed with Ryan Guy, whose volley from the edge of the box was saved.
The Saints' pressure did tell in the end, though, as, in the fourth minute of injury time, a long ball over the home backline was controlled by Quigley. His attemped lob was punched away by O'Connor, however, the 'keeper's clearance landed on the forehead of Stuart Byrne, who nodded the ball home from 25-yards to score his first club goal. In a sensational end, however, there was more drama to follow two minutes later. After Partridge fouled Gareth Coughlan on the right-hand side, Dane Massey delivered into the heart of the St. Pat's box, where Paul Byrne was on hand to direct the cross into Rogers' bottom-left corner to seal a remarkable and priceless win for Eddie Gormley's men.
Bray Wanderers: Chris O'Connor; David Webster (Daire Doyle 90+1), Derek Foran, Chris Deans, Dane Massey; Gary McCabe, Stephen Brennan, Chris Shields, Jake Kelly (Gareth Coughlan 82); Paul Byrne, John Flood (John Mulroy 80).
Subs not used: Brian Kane (gk), Darren Forsyth.
Booked: O'Connor (90+4).
St Patrick's Ath: Gary Rogers; Damian Lynch, David Partridge, Jason Gavin, Enda Stevens; Ryan Guy, Stuart Byrne, Alan Cawley (John Lester 56), Darragh Ryan; Kyle Moran (Glen Fitzpatrick 68), Mark Quigley.
Subs not used: Brendan Clarke (gk), Jamie Harris, Gints Freimanis.
Booked: Rogers (72), Quigley (73), Lynch (87), Partridge (90+6).
Referee: Derek Tomney
Attendance: 1,500 (estimate)
Extratime Man of the Match: Derek Foran (Bray Wanderers) - a masterful defensive performance for Bray helped the Seagulls to victory.