St Pat’s squeeze past Bray to make it a record nine in a row
A late title charge on the cards for Liam Buckley’s side with champions awaiting
St Patrick’s Athletic 1 Bray Wanderers 0
This narrow victory for Liam Buckley’s side made it a club record ninth on the trot in the league, something that would surely look like title winning form if there was not the handicap of two earlier defeats by Dundalk and points dropped against the likes of Longford and Drogheda to overcome. Still, the Dubliners will head to Oriel Park on Monday wondering just what might be possible over the tail-end of the campaign.
The gap between the two sides has been narrowed by seven points since the league leaders won at Richmond Park in late May and St Patrick’s have claimed every one of their victories bar this one since by at least two goals. Confidence, at least, shouldn’t be in short supply as the team bus heads up the M1 but whether they have the composure to secure win number 10 at the home of the champions remains to be seen.
Here, the home side didn’t actually play very well but got away with it for the most part even if their failure to make the points safe by getting a second goal meant it got just a little nerve-racking for the home support for periods of the second half.
Bray, to their credit, made a decent game of it, especially through the spell following the break, by which time they trailed to a Greg Bolger goal scored moments before the interval. The goal had, it seemed, been coming but the hosts had lacked a little bit of ingenuity around the area up until the moment when Jamie McGrath dummied James Chambers’ cross and allowed it to run to the arriving midfielder who had a lot of time to pick his spot from 10 yards out.
The locals must have expected it to pave the way to another more convincing win but Bray, who took the points when the sides last met and won five of out of their last six, had other ideas. That run has put some breathing space between them and the relegation zone, and even if none of the victories came against a team in the top half of the table, they certainly didn’t look like a side that knew it was beaten.
Peter Cherrie, to be fair, did very well to keep Buckley’s side at bay on a couple of occasions earlier on with the touch he got to push a powerful Conan Byrne drive onto the crossbar his standout moment. But in front of him, Mick Cooke’s side seemed rather better organised than the club itself has at times this season while David Cassidy produced the occasional bit of real quality in attack and right back Hugh Douglas, who very nearly caught Brendan Clarkle out with a snap shot from a tight angle before the break, generally looked capable at both ends.
Quite how the second half didn’t produce at least one goal is something of a mystery with both sides generating good chances and St Patrick’s passing up a couple of outstanding ones. This Dubliners will surely have to do a bit more with less if they are to win away on Monday but first and foremost they’ll have been happy enough to be going to Oriel off the back of another win, particularly after Cassidy forced Clarke into a very fine finger tip save with barely a minute left to play.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Clarke; McEleney, McGuinness, Desmond, Greene; Bolger, Brennan; Byrne, Chambers, Forrester; McGrath (Langley, 87 mins).
Bray Wanderers: Cherrie; Douglas, McNally, Cooney, Barker; Sullivan, McEvoy; Wixted (McDonagh, 60 mins), Kelly, Cassidy; Scully (Lyons, 73 mins).
Referee: P Sutton (Clare).