Date: 7:45 p.m. Oct. 16, 2009
Venue: Richmond Park
In an astonishingly open start to what one would have reasonably expected to be a tight game, Ryan Guy latched on to a through ball in the first minute but his soft shot was deflected wide and from the resulting corner Jason Gavin fired over from the edge of the box.
Then just two minutes later Jake Kelly really should have done better when played in on goal by Paul Byrne’s clever toe poke but shot tamely wide with just Brendan Clarke to beat.
It was the Saints who totally dominated thereafter, thanks to the aerial dominance of the returning Gavin and centre half partner Dave Partridge and the obvious ability in possession of the home side’s more attack minded players, namely Bobby Ryan, Garreth O’Connor and Declan O’Brien.
And Pat’s dominance almost culminated in a goal on 15 following a quite brilliant passing move; Guy squared for O’Brien but the predatory marksman fired over when well placed.
Such profligacy could have been punished on 17 but Clarke was more than equal to Gary McCabe’s powerful effort from the edge of the Pat’s penalty area, though the Seagulls had more than a decent appeal for a penalty as the ball appeared to strike the arm of Partridge in the build up.
But Pete Mahon’s energetic charges were to come again and the unusually subdued Guy tested Chris O’Connor with a header from a left sided Enda Steven’s cross.
Subdued performances are obviously not something that sit easy with the dynamic American and when fed from the right this time by Stephen Maher he rose majestically to plant his header past the hapless O’Connor and send the Richmond Park faithful in to hysterics with half an hour on the clock.
That lead should have been built on on 38 when the omnipotent O’Brien bore down on goal following Ryan’s delicate through ball only to be hauled to the ground by Derek Pender, there could be only one decision which was to award penalty and referee Damian Hancock duly obliged.
Gary Dempsey was brave enough to take the responsibility and his strike from 12 yards was purposeful and true but, O’Connor sprung to his right to brilliantly turn the shot around his right hand post and out for a corner kick.
And so Pat’s went in to the half-time break with just a single goal advantage.
Bray showed great endeavour to get back in to the game at the start of the second period and seemed quicker to the breaking ball than they had been at any stage in the opening half and the hard work the Saints had shown previously displayed certainly lessened.
The Seagulls also managed to engineer a wonderful opportunity on 60 when substitute Colm Tresson did brilliantly to keep the ball alive and direct his header into the path of the lively Kelly.
Kelly, however, struck wildly first time but his rash shot flew straight to Byrne on the edge of the six yard box but the big striker inexplicably only succeed in steering the ball into the West Stand of Richmond Park instead of the home side’s goal.
Upon such moments are games won or lost and Byrne must have wished the ground would open up and swallow him when, on 69 minutes O’Connor bent in a dangerous corner kick which captain Damian Lynch glanced expertly in to the Bray net to put his team in to a very comfortable two nil lead.
From then on the men from Inchicore were happy to sit back and hit their guests on the counter attack utilising Guy’s remarkable pace and energy levels wherever possible and it was only their own wastefulness that prevented them from extending their lead.
Such wastefulness should have led to a nervy finish as referee Hancock awarded his second spot kick of the evening when he adjudged Gavin to have deliberately handled Dave Mulcahy’s goal bound shot on 83.
Stephen Brennan attempted to succeed from the exact spot that Dempsey had failed in the first half and opted to go to Clarke’s left in his pursuit of happiness but again the ‘keeper guessed correctly to parry the effort before gathering at the second attempt.
The Saints certainly have enough quality to see off relegation whether it is by virtue of the play offs or automatic safety but Bray are in serious trouble and can only hope Shamrock Rovers beat Drogheda United on Saturday night to prolong their own narrow hopes of survival.
Man of the Match: Jason Gavin - rock solid performance.
St. Pat’s: Clarke, Maher, Gavin, Partridge, Stevens (D Ryan ’56) , B Ryan, O’Connor, Lynch, Dempsey (Lester '66), Guy, O’Brien (Fitzpatrick ’81).
Subs not used: Harris, Rogers.
Bray Wanderers: O’Connor, Pender, Doyle, Deans, Webster, Brennan, McCabe (Tresson h/t), Mulcahy, Byrne, Flood (Shields ’40), Kelly (Massey ’63).
Subs not used: Kane, Reyes.
Referee: Damian Hancock.