Bridge Rovers 2 Gorey Celtic 1
Bridge Rovers battled to an important victory over struggling Gorey Celtic in The Bogside on Sunday, to move three points closer to ensuring that they cling on to their Premier Division status.
The hosts held a 1-0 lead at the interval through a Terry Gainfort strike and probably should have added to their tally during an opening period where they enjoyed the lion's share of possession.
However, when Kevin Murphy was shown a second yellow card in first-half injury time their task became a difficult one, particularly with legs tiring on the tacky surface. However, they rolled up their sleeves, dug in and rode their luck at times to eventually get the job done.
Gorey Celtic pushed forward in droves after the turnaround and created enough chances to win the game, but they lacked a killer instinct, with several good opportunities going a-begging.
The were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal when substitute Daniel Murphy grabbed Rovers' second in the 83rd minute.
Des Wolohan did manage to put one of their opportunities away late on to set up a nervy finish, but Bridge Rovers held on for a hard-earned win.
The home side certainly would have identified this contest as one that they were well capable of winning, and they began with real urgency and belief, with Jody Hynes fizzing a shot narrowly wide of the left-hand post with just over a minute on the clock.
Gorey Celtic showed they also had a victory in their minds five minutes later when Paul Brennan slid a pass through to Des Wolohan, but the striker couldn't get a firm connection on the shot.
Seconds later Rovers almost made the breakthrough when Hynes saw his shot saved after being picked out by Kevin Murphy, and goalkeeper John Dunbar was out quickly to prevent Murphy from knocking in the follow-up.
At the other end Bryan Tobin was called into action when Lee Cullen tried his luck after a mazy run, but his effort was straight at the goalkeeper.
After a sustained period of pressure the Castlebridge side opened the scoring with 23 minutes on the clock when the ball ricocheted to Terry Gainfort in the area, and he turned neatly before firing a shot to the corner of the net.
Bridge Rovers had a decent chance to double their tally seven minutes before the break, with Kevin Murphy seeing his initial effort blocked before Jody Hynes was also denied.
Gorey Celtic almost struck back a minute before the break when Darren Brennan picked out Thomas Cloke with a delightful crossfield pass, with Wolohan getting on the end of Cloke's cross, but Tobin did well to turn the shot out for a corner.
Cloke's corner again caused a degree of panic in the defence, with Adam Roche getting a touch to steer the ball on target, but the Rovers rearguard did enough to avert the danger.
Any sense of relief quickly turned to despair when Kevin Murphy was shown a second yellow card, followed by a red, making the second-half an altogether tougher proposition.
They almost made light of the situation though, as they carved open the Celtic defence within a minute of the re-start when Jody Hynes crossed to Mark Mythen, but his side-footed effort was straight at Dunbar.
However, the north county side's numerical advantage quickly started to show, as they pinned Bridge Rovers back and created a number of gilt-edged opportunities.
In the 53th minute Matty Kavanagh dragged a shot wide of the left upright after being found by a pinpoint pass from Thomas Cloke, and five minutes later the number nine again tried his luck after the lively Niall Keys sent in a teasing delivery, but his effort was blocked.
Des Wolohan was next to fluff a decent chance, when he could only divert a Darragh Curran cross into the grateful arms of Tobin.
Bridge Rovers almost caught them on the break on the hour mark, when Shane Murphy cut inside and forced a save out of Dunbar, but Gorey were quickly back on the front foot, with Matty Kavanagh twice having sights of goal, first firing over and then cutting inside, before being thwarted by Tobin.
Darragh Curran was next to test Tobin, but again the netminder was equal to the task, pulling off a fine save in the 82nd minute to deny the substitute, who had been played in by Adam Roche.
Seconds later Bridge Rovers doubled their advantage, when Mark Mythen tigerishly won back possession before laying the ball off to Daniel Murphy, and the substitute did the rest, blasting to the back of the net.
Celtic gave themselves hope by halving the deficit in the 90th minute. Darren Brennan's delivery found the inrushing Matty Kavanagh and, when his effort came back off the crossbar, Wolohan was on hand to tap in from close range.
The visitors pushed hard to rescue a priceless point, with Lee Cullen turning and arrowing a shot just wide, but Bridge held firm to take the spoils.
Bridge Rovers: Bryan Tobin, David Kenny, Niall Murphy, Colin Redmond, Shane Hogan, Shane Murphy, Terry Gainfort, Kevin Byrne, Mark Mythen, Kevin Murphy, Jody Hynes. Subs. - Daniel Murphy for Hynes (57), Oisín Firman for S. Murphy (78), Ray McGlone for Gainfort (86), also Simon Murphy, Derek Walsh, Mark Tobin, Evan Devereux.
Gorey Celtic: John Dunbar, Dion Leeson, John Kavanagh, Darren Brennan, Lee Cullen, Niall Keys, Adam Roche, Paul Brennan, Thomas Cloke, Des Wolohan, Matty Kavanagh. Subs. - Darragh Curran for Leeson (HT), Wayne O'Reilly for Cloke (74), also Craig Travers.
Referee: Fran Sinnott.