Bray Wanderers pulled off their biggest win of the season after a Ger Pender strike just before half-time handed them a priceless one-nil victory over St Patrick’s Athletic at the Carlisle Grounds on Saturday night.
An inspired performance from Peter Cherrie coupled with some impressive moves on the break from Bray meant Harry Kenny’s first game in charge as caretaker boss was certainly a memorable one.
St Pat’s controlled the early proceedings with some quick tiki-taka football around the midfield, however, it was Bray who grinded out the first chance when Dylan Connolly received the ball wide left before cutting inside and getting a shot away. However, it lacked pace and Brendan Clarke was able to save handily.
Just inside the fifteenth minute mark, Pat’s had their opening chance of the game. Billy Dennehy sent the ball into the path of Ian Bermingham who cleverly headed the ball away from Conor Kenna to allow him the space to shoot. However, his effort was straight down the middle and Cherrie was able to clutch it into his chest.
Five minutes later Dennehy again took the ball down the left. Some quick feet allowed him to cut inside before laying it into the path of David Cawley. His effort from 25 yards certainly carried pace but Cherrie had eyes on it all the way and made a decent stop.
With 38 minutes on the clock Christy Fagan came agonizingly close to breaking the deadlock. Robbie Creevy’s pass across the pitch was intercepted by Conan Byrne who flicked it into the feet of Fagan who hit a wonder strike which seemed destined for the top-corner only for Cherrie to pull a fantastic reflex save to send it above the target.
The Saints were beginning to play with more and more confidence as the half progressed with a series of attacks coming down the left wing. However, they found Bray’s centre-half pairing of Kenna and Alan McNally in inspired form and they were equal with the number of crosses sent into their danger area.
Despite the Pat’s pressure it was Bray who ensured the deadlock was indeed broken just before the half-time whistle. Karl Moore capitalized on a defensive mix-up before sliding Pender through on goal. He kept his composure to slot it beneath Clarke and into the net.
Bray began the second-half flying with Connolly and Moore forcing some early corners. Sean Harding came close with a header and a Hugh Douglas blocked shot had the Bray home support appealing for handball, however the ref waved play to continue.
The Saints continued to have large spells of possession heading towards the hour mark, however, their final ball was lacking and the Bray backline were quick to sniff out any potential chances.
The Seagulls then had a fantastic opportunity to double their advantage. Moore won a ball on the right wing before putting it on a plate for Connolly, however, he was off balance and failed to connect cleanly and it evaded the target.
On the 68th minute mark Cherrie pulled off another top-class stop. Byrne received a ball wide before nicking it into the feet of Graham Kelly. He pulled it back for Jamie McGrath who powered it towards the bottom left corner only for Cherrie to somehow get his hand to it before it was cleared.
Ten minutes later Bray really should have been two to the good. Dylan McGlade forced another decent stop from Cherrie before Connolly broke from the corner. He sprinted half the pitch before playing it inside to Andrew Lewis who somehow put it over the bar from inside the six-yard area.
With three minutes to go Pat’s thought they had found the levelling goal. McGrath got on the end of an inside ball before lobbing it over an onrushing Peter Cherrie. The ball seemed destined for the back of the net but it somehow bounced onto the crossbar before McNally headed it clear.
Pat’s pushed their entire 11 into the Bray half and continued to pump balls into the box, however, Bray stood firm and denied any chances from being created.
Deep into injury time, Bray sent a long ball up the pitch which Lewis managed to win and nick past an outrushing Clarke. However, Clarke took Lewis out just as he was clean through on goal and was immediately sent to the stands.
With Pat’s out of substitutes it was Sean Hoare who put on the gloves. However, Bray decided to take the free short before heading for the corner, saving the centre-back from testing his shot-stopping skills.
Soon after, the referee brought the game to a close, handing Bray it’s biggest win of the season to date and pushing them up to 11th spot in the table.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie, Hugh Douglas, Conor Kenna, Conor Kenna, Sean Harding, Robert Creevy, Ryan Brennan, Karl Moore, Dylan Connolly (Jason Marks 86), Ger Pender (Gareth McDonagh 81), Andrew Lewis
Subs not used: Aaron Shanahan, Sean Noble, Darragh Noone, Curtis Murphy, Daniel Blackbyrne
Bookings: Ryan Brennan (90)
Sent Off: None.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke Michael Barker, Sean Hoare, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham, Mark Timlin (Jamie McGrath 61), David Cawley, Graham Kelly, Billy Dennehy, Conan Byrne (Dylan McGlade 72), Christy Fagan (Dinny Corcoran 52)
Subs not used: Pat Jennings, Sam Verdon, Shane McEleney, Rory Feely
Sent Off: Brendan Clarke
Referee: Graham Kelly
Attendance: 1,500 (Estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Peter Cherrie (Bray Wanderers)