Monday 25 June 2018

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Stunning start secures points for Saints

Bray Wanderers 1-2 St Patrick's Ath 2

Christopher Fagan of St Patrick's Athletic celebrates after scoring his side's second goal Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Christopher Fagan of St Patrick's Athletic celebrates after scoring his side's second goal Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Aidan Fitzmaurice

Aidan Fitzmaurice

It was another tough night on the field of play for Bray Wanderers, but the Wicklow club also showed signs that they have an ability to come back from crisis and fight to stay in the division.

The first home game of the season did not go to plan for Bray as they went down 2-1 at home to St Patrick's Athletic, all the goals coming in a busy first 20 minutes followed by a dull second half.

Dean Clarke of St Patrick's Athletic attempts to evade Bray's Dan McKenna Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Dean Clarke of St Patrick's Athletic attempts to evade Bray's Dan McKenna Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

To the credit of the players, they showed real courage by responding to a 2-0 deficit, after just 14 minutes, to peg back a more experienced Saints outfit, though the points went to the visitors.

Bray have been tipped to go down this season and defeat in their first home game of the season would back that up, though they do have one point to show, from a tricky trip to Dundalk.

Football-wise it was looking grim for Bray early on after a chaotic opening spell.

Pat's had gone in front after only 70 seconds, Conan Byrne finishing on the half-volley after Owen Garvan sent in a speculative, high free-kick.

Bray were then 2-0 down on 14 minutes, Dean Clarke making a strong run from the halfway line, bypassing his marker Dan McKenna and crossing for Chris Fagan (pictured) to score.

Clarke had done all the hard work with his powerful run but it will be encouraging for the Saints support to see Fagan get off the mark, having missed the season-opener through illness, and if Pat's are to do anything this term they will need goals from Fagan.

The Bray side have a mixture of youth, like teenager McKenna and Donegal-born goalkeeper Aaron Dillon, and experience.

Dillon is on loan from Blackburn while Wolves have loaned McKenna to Wanderers for a spell, and both players will benefit from experiences like this, especially Dillon who pulled off a number of saves to prevent Pat's from stretching their lead.

Yet it was two of the veterans who got Wanderers back into the game; Aaron Greene with the cross and captain Gary McCabe with the finish after 20 minutes.

That was as good as it got for Bray though, unable to create anything in a dull second half, though Pat's did little to entertain as well, the main focus for the away side who had lost on the opening day of the campaign.

A cross from Bray defender Kevin Lynch on 75 minutes was dangerous but no one was on hand to profit, while a run from Greene on 81 minutes was cut out by a brave tackle from Saints defender Kevin Toner, the former Aston Villa man blossoming in his debut season in the league.

Conan Byrne almost nicked a third goal for the Saints in the 85th minute but the effort was wide, and US import Jake Keegamon, on as a sub for Chris Fagan early in the second half, saw little of the ball.

Overall, manager Liam Buckley will be pleased with the night's work - the win a morale booster ahead of Monday's trip to Waterford.

Bray travel to Tallaght on Monday. These double-headers are a huge test for part-time clubs like Bray but they have a point and a goal on board, more than some clubs, but for Pat's, the fact that they played their trademark passing football but still ground out a win bodes well for what is to come.

BRAY WDRS - Dillon; McKenna, Douglas, Heaney, Lynch; Coughlan, O'Conor (D Kelly, 77), Sullivan, Galvin (J Kelly, 62); McCabe; Greene.

ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC - Murphy; Madden, Toner, Desmond, Bermingham; Garvan, R Brennan; Byrne, Kelly, Clarke; Fagan (Keegan, 51).

REF - G Kelly

Irish Independent

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