Bray Wanderers returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Drogheda United at the Carlisle Grounds on a windy Monday night.
Goals from Aaron Greene and Dylan Connolly sealed a third win of the season for the Seagulls, but they were made to sweat after Ciaran McGuigan pulled a goal back for the visitors.
The two sides went into the game on the back of defeats having won their opening two games: Drogheda succumbed to Cork City at United Park while Bray blew a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Bohemians at Dalymount Park.
And both sides appeared eager to make amends during a frenetic opening period in which former Shelbourne defender Ryan Robinson – a pre-season signing from Leinster Senior League side St Mochta's – tore into Adam Wixted with a reckless challenge within 30 seconds.
The visitors, incensed, demanded action from referee Neil Doyle, but the Dubliner chose merely to speak to Robinson rather than produce a card, which was slightly fortunate for the tough-tackling defender.
From the resulting free-kick, Gareth McCaffrey drove the ball low and on target, and Peter Cherrie could only parry towards Jake Hyland, who thought he'd broken the deadlock but for Bray captain Conor Kenna to clear off the line.
Within two minutes, it was Drogheda keeper Stephen McGuinness picking the ball out of his own net as Aaron Greene cut in from the left and struck a firm shot on goal, and McGuinness was slow to get down and saw the ball nestle inside his near post.
The Seagulls were in full flight now and from Kevin Lynch's scuffed corner, John Sullivan very nearly nipped in at the back post to double the lead, before Anto Flood headed just over after Greene showed class to hook the ball over his shoulder into the striker's path.
The second goal wasn't long in coming, however, and there were just 21 minutes on the clock when Greene played a ball over the top for Connolly, and the winger helped the ball over McGuinness with Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill a keen spectator.
Drogheda hit back right from the kick-off, however, forcing a corner from which McGuigan, thanks to a sly tug on Flood's shirt, found room to catch the ball flush on the half volley and into the top corner – a quite outstanding finish.
At that point, few bookmakers would have given short odds on the score remaining 2-1, but remain it did, in a way Scottish goalkeeper Cherrie might have wished his fellow countrymen had been allowed to do following last summer's referendum.
Bray were comfortable, if not completely in control, for the remainder of the half, and Drogheda looked the more threatening as the break drew closer, Sean Brennan glancing his header just over the bar.
Greene was causing problems to left-back Conor Kane on his Drogs debut, and it was down his flank the former Limerick striker produced a great cross that Flood was inches from connecting with.
The Boynesiders had another purple patch around the hour-mark as, following a poor tackle from Derek Foran, Griffin curled a free kick just wide before Gareth McCaffrey showed power and pace to beat Lynch and force a near-post stop from Cherrie.
That was as good as it was to get for Pete Mahon's side, however, as centre-half Luke Gallagher saw a second yellow for a late challenge on Connolly, having earlier been booked for dissent.
To their credit, the visitors continued to press for an equaliser, and could have gotten it had substitute Thomas Byrne put his header either side of Cherrie, but they left themselves increasingly vulnerable at the back.
Connolly could have made safe the points in the last minute, only for McGuinness to come out well and smother the ball at the winger's feet, but it mattered not as Bray secured another three points to join Derry City and Dundalk in second place on nine points behind pacesetters Cork City.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie; Ryan Robinson (Conor Earley 65), Derek Foran, Conor Kenna, Kevin Lynch; John Sullivan, Keith Buckley (Mark Salmon 69), Gary McCabe (Ryan Brennan 79); Dylan Connolly, Aaron Greene, Anto Flood.
Subs Not Used: Lee Steacy (gk), Tim Clancy, Darragh Noone, Jamie Aherne.
Booked: Kenna (43), Foran (59), Flood (90).
Drogheda United: Stephen McGuinness; Colm Deasy, Luke Gallagher, Ciaran McGuigan, Conor Kane; Ryan McEvoy, Jake Hyland, Sean Brennan (Sean Thornton 74), Gareth McCaffrey (Thomas Byrne 71), Adam Wixted (Lloyd Buckley 65); Marc Griffin.
Subs Not Used: Dylan Sweeney (gk), Stephen Dunne, Shane Elworthy, Jamie Hollywood.
Booked: Gallagher (51)(64)
Sent Off: Gallagher (64)
Referee: Neil Doyle (Dublin).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Aaron Greene (Bray Wanderers).