Doom and gloom
St Patrick's Athletic 5 Bray Wanderers 0
Doom and gloom is engulfing the Carlisle Grounds and rightly so. Sure, there may only be six points separating them from Sligo Rovers but in reality the gap is immeasurable.
Prior to Friday, St. Patrick's Athletic had only amassed 10 points. They'd scored seven goals in eight games. They were - and still are - nervously glancing over their shoulders at the play-off spot. They are a team that the Seagulls should have in their radar. But on Friday, the Saints strolled - not marched - to the easiest 5-0 victory of their lives.
If Bray Wanderers were a horse, they'd be Pritt Stick by now. They were dead and buried by half-time in Inchicore. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Perhaps that played a part in Dave Mackey's reshuffling of his pack in Inchicore.
There was one change to the line-up from the Cork defeat - Paul O'Conor returned at Jake Kelly's expense. But the eyebrow-raiser was the deployment of Gary McCabe in the striker's role, with Aaron Greene shifted to the left flank. It did not work.
Roaming right-back Simon Madden almost nudged the hosts ahead after six minutes but his back post volley flew wide.
The Bray defence survived for 18 minutes before succumbing to the pressure. Pat's skipper Ian Bermingham got to the byline and chipped a cross into the penalty area. Ex-Seagull Ryan Brennan diverted the ball goalwards with his head and American frontman Jake Keegan nipped in to nod home.
Referee Ray Matthews showed resilience in the 22nd and 23rd minutes respectively when he booked Simon Madden and Daniel Kelly for simulation respectively as he refused to fall for their falls.
With Mackey's side yet to score more than a single goal in a match in 2018, Kevin Toner effectively extinguished the contest in the 37th minute when took full advantage of Bray's absent marking to nod a Conan Byrne corner back across goal and into the net.
It got worse for Bray quite quickly. They conceded a penalty in the 40th minute - Conor Kenna barged into Dean Kelly and left Matthews with no option. Experienced attacker Conan Byrne drilled it down the middle to best Aaron Dillon to make the second half a foregone conclusion.
Wanderers needed a miracle and Mackey made changes; he called upon widemen Jake Kelly and Cory Galvin but it failed to stem the flow of the Saints.
Three had become four by the 58th minute as Keegan grabbed his second.
He latched onto a brilliant raking pass from Owen Garvan and kept his head to beat Dillon in his battle of wits.
Liam Buckley would withdraw Keegan two minutes later so he would not complete his treble but the fourth goal would arrive two minutes after his departure. Exciting youngster Jamie Lennon's chipped pass over the top gave Dean Clarke the freedom of Richmond Park and he made no mistake as he dribbled around the hapless Dillon and stroked home.
There could have been a consolation goal for the visitors in the 64th minute but Greene was denied his first goal of the season when Toner somehow flicked it off the line.
A rare goal for Owen Garvan was almost on the cards with a few minutes remaining when he let rip with a dipping volley from outside the penalty area but Dillon managed to turn it behind.
So with one quarter of the season played, Bray Wanderers languish on one point. On average, they've conceded three goals per game and their next three fixtures are Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Waterford - three of the current top four. It is hard to see the rainbow at the end of this storm.
St. Patrick's Athletic: 1. Barry Murphy; 17. Simon Madden, 4. Kevin Toner, 5. Lee Desmond, 3. Ian Bermingham; 6. Owen Garvan, 11. Ryan Brennan; 7. Conan Byrne, 20. Jamie Lennon, 18. Dean Clarke; 21. Jake Keegan. Subs: Christy Fagan for Keegan (60); Graham Kelly for R. Brennan (70); James Doona for Keegan (73). Not used: Tyson Farago, Michael Leahy, Michael Barker, Darragh Markey.
Bray Wanderers: 1. Aaron Dillon; 2. Hugh Douglas, 4. Conor Kenna, 5. Sean Heaney, 23. Andrew McGovern; 6. Paul O'Conor, 8. John Sullivan; 17. Daniel Kelly, 22. Darragh Noone, 10. Aaron Greene; 21. Gary McCabe. Subs: Cory Galvin for D. Kelly (H/T); Jake Kelly for Noone (H/T); Dan McKenna for Sullivan (63). Not used: Evan Moran, Rhys Gorman, Ronan Coughlan, Ger Pender.
Referee: Ray Matthews.
Venue: Inchicore, Dublin.