St Patrick’s Athletic piled yet more misery on top of Bray’s already traumatic season as they progressed comfortably to the quarter-finals of the EA Sports Cup at Richmond Park on Monday night.
This was a game that started slowly, the opening minutes offering little by way of incident, but Conor Sinnott and David McAllister in the St. Pat’s midfield looked by far the more elegant of the central players.
As Bray sent long balls towards the corners for Robbie Doyle and Jake Kelly to chase, the Saint’s midfield out-passed and out-thought their opponents.
This more considered approach was ideal for Alex Williams and Vinny Faherty who looked lively and inventive in the St Pats’ attack and after ten minutes it was Williams who first threatened. Having run onto a through ball, he attempted to dink the ball over Shane O’Connor but the Bray defender’s arm blocked the danger. The yellow card was probably worth it.
His next effort came four minutes later when he volleyed a delightfully lofted ball from Sinnott just past Brian Kane’s left hand post. Bray had little to offer in return and a St. Pat’s defence that contained reserve players Neil Harney and Noel Haverty, coped easily. Only one side looked likely to score.
When it came in the 17th minute, St Pats’ opener was as bizarre as it was deserved. There was no pressure on Bray keeper Kane as he sought to clear his lines. Unfortunately for him he drove the ball into the back of the lurking Vinny Faherty and the ball rebounded over his head and across the line.
Derek Doyle came on for the injured Brian Cash after 22 minutes and took up a position on Pat’s left flank, offering a more muscular alternative to Coughlan’s darting runs on the opposite side.
With seven minutes to play until half time, another Sinnott ball, this time cut back from the byline, found Williams just eight yards from goal. The Scottish striker’s powerful volley was on target and only a magnificent one handed save by Kane kept the ball out. A follow up header from Mulcahy was then cleared from the goal-line by Shane O’Connor.
At half time Eddie Gormley replaced veteran Richie Baker with young striker Shane O’Neill and the move paid dividends. The visitors looked a good deal livelier in the second period and, having survived two early efforts from Williams, they manufactured dome chances of their own.
A beautifully clipped cross from Chris Shields almost put Massey in on goal but the linesman’s flag intervened. Then an astute pass from John Mulroy put Robbie Doyle through on the right and his shot across goal wasn’t far away.
But St. Pat’s were soon back in charge. A Derek Doyle corner found its way to Williams at the back post and his cut back was hit superbly by Sinnott, goalkeeper Kane again pulling off a spectacular save.
There was nothing Kane could do in the 68th minute when a Dane Massey clearance was blocked and fell to Coughlan. The ex-Bray winger cut into the box and slipped the ball to Williams who skipped past Kane and rolled the ball into the net.
To their credit Bray kept fighting and the combined efforts of Shields, Massey, Kelly and O’Neill meant that play see-sawed from end to end, a succession of half chances falling to either side.
But as the final substitutes took to the field and the fourth officials board declared three minutes of added time it was plain that the contest had been over for some time. As expected it is St Pat’s who progress to the EA Sports quarter-finals but Bray can at least be satisfied that they made something of a game of it.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Connor; Harney, Bermingham, Haverty, Mulcahy (Kenna, 85); Cash (D Doyle, 22), Coughlan, Sinnott, McAllister; Williams, Faherty.
Subs not used: Rogers, Pender, Guy, S Doyle, Dowling.
Bray Wanderers: Kane; S O’Connor, Massey, Tresson, Webster (N Byrne, 73); Baker (S O’Neill, HT), Kavanagh, Shields, Mulroy (Vickers, 77); Doyle, Kelly.
Subs not used: Donnelly, A O’Connor, Georgescu, O’Brien.
Bookings: S O’Connor (10), Baker (41), Shields (48), Doyle (82).
Extratime Man of the Match: Conor Sinnott.
Referee: Tom Connolly
Attendance: 500 (estimate).
Simon O'Gorman began reporting for Extratime in 2010. He remembers Milltown and Flower Lodge and, back in the mists of time, saw Diego Maradona play at Lansdowne Road. He now lives in Co Kildare and reports on Shamrock Rovers among others. Simon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org