Early goals cost Bray Wanderers against St. Pat’s in scrappy affair

Bray Wanderers 1-2 St. Patrick’s Athletic

There was a measure of optimism around the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night as Bray hosted St. Patrick’s Athletic in the second game of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division. Last time out, Bray managed to come away with a draw against Dundalk at Oriel Park in a game that they could have won late on.

As a result of that point, there was a sense that Bray may be capable of building on that game with a win against the same side that knocked them out of the Leinster Senior Cup at the same venure a couple of weeks ago.

That was until Conan Byrne looped a hopeful shot over the disappointed Aaron Dillon inside just two minutes – a goal which gave fans of the Seagulls a sense of deja-vu after the club succumbed to three early goals against the same team a few weeks ago in the Leinster Senior Cup.

Pat’s doubled their lead shortly before the quarter hour through Christy Fagan before Bray clawed one goal back before halftime through Gary McCabe. The hosts were unable to find an equalizer in a drab second half — meaning Pat’s left the Carlisle Grounds with their first win of the season.

Dave Mackey went about the game with the same team that managed that draw in Dundalk in the hope that his tem could build on that result. Unfortunately for him, it took just two minutes for the Seagulls to be reminded just how challenging a game they had to play.

A free-kick from the right by Owen Garvan was cut out but reached Conan Byrne wide on the same side. The Pat’s man – who scored against Cork City last week – looped the ball over Aaron Dillon in goal to put the visitors in front after just 70 seconds.

While Bray would not concede two more goals in the first ten minutes as they did in the cup. However, after just 14 minutes, it was 2-0 to the away side.

Dean Clarke took advantage of some weak defending from Dan McKenna at the right-side of the Bray defence to make his way into the Seagulls’ box. Clarke cut the ball back for Christy Fagan to stroke past Dillon to double the Pat’s lead.

While Pat’s looked assured in possession in difficult conditions, the same could not be said for the hosts. The Seagulls were unable to establish any sort of momentum or rhythm in the early parts of the game.

It took 22 minutes for Bray to create a meaningful chance and it just so happened to lead to a goal.

Captain Gary McCabe — Bray Wanderers’ most effective player on the night — played the ball infield to Paul O’Conor. The midfielder then threaded the ball through for Aaron Greene who cut the ball back for McCabe to dispatch the ball into the top corner of the Pat’s goal.

Despite the goal, Pat’s remained the dominant team in the game. Graham Kelly headed a Conan Byrne cross narrowly wide before the same man teed up Christy Fagan whose shot was easily saved an held by Aaron Dillon.

Much like the cup, Bray grew into the final 10 minutes of the half and could have found themselves level when a Ronan Coughlan shot was blocked on the line — leaving Pat’s to go in at halftime with a deserved 2-1 lead.

The second half was far less eventful than the first. Neither side were able to establish any kind of meaningful momentum on a difficult playing surface. Openings were few and far between, and Bray were unable to force an equalizer.

Next up for Bray Wanderers is a home tie against Waterford next Friday night.

Bray Wanderers XI – Dillon; McKenna, Douglas, Heaney, Lynch; Sullivan, O’Conor; Coughlan, McCabe (c), Galvin; Greene.

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