Fagan double ensures easy night for St Patrick’s Athletic
Pat's stay top with 2-0 win at Richmond Park
Christy Fagan scores his second goal past Bray Wanderers goalkeeper Darren Quigley. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
With what will hopefully be a hectic programme of European games to come, St Patrick’s Athletic had annoyed one or two of their rivals by arranging to have next Friday off by striking a deal with UCD to bring a league game forward.
Bray were almost as obliging against the league leaders at Richmond Park last night, rolling over rather tamely to Christy Fagan’s two first-half goal and, with a tricky trip to Lithuania on the horizon, were able to coast all the way through to the final whistle.
The midfielder held the ball up perfectly before releasing Ian Bermingham down the left side of the box from where he sent in a low cross that the striker had only to turn home from a couple of yards.
Wanderers could be forgiven for being caught cold at that early stage but much of what followed was less easy to understand.
Pat Devlin’s side generally settled for getting 10 men behind the ball yet never exerted much pressure on their opponents as they worked their way largely unhindered towards goal.
When they did win possession, Bray sought to get the ball quickly forward to Jason Byrne, who, it seemed, would not pursue anything that wasn’t played directly at him.
The result was a steady supply of easy pickings for Conor Kenna and Kenny Browne, who gathered up the Bray balls forward and began the process of building from the back again.
It was all a little too easy through much of the first half to be really entertaining for a neutral.
Things might have been more interesting had Byrne or Kevin O’Connor converted the chances, completely against the run of play, they had before the break – and both of them should have – but it seemed to be only a question of how many Liam Buckley’s men would score.
Conan Byrne came closest to adding the second with a powerful close-range header that clattered off the top of the crossbar before Fagan actually did, after Ger O’Brien had crossed from the right, but John Russell and Forrester were also both unfortunate not to score too.
Up until then Darren Quigley had done little to distinguish himself in the Bray goal but after Fagan’s second, he began to make more of an impact; saving at the feet of Forrester then getting down well to stop a close-range shot by O’Brien.
It was going to take more than goalkeeping heroics to make a match of it, though, and Devlin can’t have started the second half with any great optimism.
As it turned out, though, the league leaders seemed to decide they had done enough and there was far less bite to their attacking play after the break.
Under rather less pressure, Wanderers finally began to push out of their half and John Mulroy, Kieran Waters and Ismahil Akinade started to provide meaningful support for Byrne.
There was even the occasional hint of the goal they required to get back into things, with Akinade heading narrowly over and Waters having a shot from distance deflected wide, but there was always a suspicion too the locals could step up a gear if required.
In the end that wasn’t necessary, though, and Bray’s hopes of a comeback were formally extinguished a few minutes from time when David Webster picked up his second booking for driving the ball straight at Stephen Maher after the referee’s whistle had gone.
He seemed to believe he had something to complain about as he made his way to the dressingroom but few of his team-mates could have when they followed shortly afterwards.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Clarke; O’Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Bolger; Byrne, Russell (Gannon, 82 mins), McFaul (Maher, 68 mins), Forrester; Fagan (Flood, 75 mins).
BRAY WANDERERS: Quigley; Hyland (Mitchell, 77 mins), Webster, S O’Connor, Knight; Zambra, K O’Connor (Earley, 83 mins); Mulroy, Akinade, Waters; Byrne.
Referee: A Kelly (Cork).