Seasoned striker Jason Byrne scored an injury time equaliser to deny St Patrick’s Athletic their second away victory of the season and maintain Bray’s fine recent run of form in a pulsating 3-3 at a damp Carlisle Grounds on Friday evening.
Byrne had given the home side a surprise lead in the first half before Christy Fagan levelled matters before the break. John Mulroy’s superb long range effort put Bray into the lead again after an hour but, once again, it was Fagan who equalised.
John Russell seemed to have grabbed Pats all three points but Jason Byrne popped up in injury time to slot home and deny Liam Buckley’s men the win.
Heading into the game, both Bray and St Pat’s were the form sides in the league and it was no surprise that neither manager changed tactics for this clash. Sean Houston came in for Kevin Knight at left-back for Bray but he and his team mates saw little of the ball as the visitors dominated most of the early exchanges.
Liam Buckley’s men were happy to keep the ball as both sides settled. James O’Connor had the first sight of goal as he was slipped in by Christy Fagan but Darren Quigley denied O’Connor with his feet.
Despite having the ball for large periods, Pat’s couldn’t cut through the well drilled home defence but a nice bit of inter play between Fagan and John Russell resulted in the latter having a left footed effort acrobatically tipped over the bar by Quigley.
Minutes later it was the impressive Chris Forrester who found space on the edge of the Bray box but, after finding the onrushing O’Connor, it was once again Quigley who denied Pat’s the opening goal.
The vocal travelling support were silenced on the half hour mark when, against the run of play, John Mulroy broke from midfield and released Kieran Marty Waters down the left.
His low cross found Jason Byrne at the back post and the veteran slotted home his ninth league goal of the season.
The Bray lead didn’t last long however, as Ger O’Brien broke forward down the right from his full-back position to cross.
The loose ball eventually fell to Fagan at the edge of the box who emphatically slotted it past Quigley.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first as the visitors dominated the ball but didn’t reap any rewards. A Jake Kelly cross shot was parried by Quigley before Webster was on hand to clear off the line.
They were made to pay for not converting possession into goals as John Mulroy gave the home side the lead after an hour. Jason Byrne teed up the midfielder to hammer the ball into the corner from just outside the box.
It wasn’t long before Pat’s were level once again as a throw from the right resulted in a low cross which was converted by Fagan at the near post.
From then on it seemed as if the Saints were going to go on and claim victory when nice build up in midfield lead to a bit of space for John Russell. That was all he needed to find the top corner despite the best efforts of Quigley.
Bray looked dangerous on the attack in a very last quarter but they left it very late to preserve their own unbeaten run, as Jason Byrne coolly converted a cross past Brendan Clarke in the third minute of injury time to send the home fans into raptures.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; David Webster, Dane Massey (Anthony Bolger, 90), Danny O'Connor, Pierce Sweeney; Adam Hanlon (Kevin Knight, 82), Dean Zambra, Sean Houston (Adam Mitchell, 88), John Mulroy, Kieran Marty Waters; Jason Byrne.
Subs Not Used: Brian Kane, Graham Kelly, Jonathan Kelty, Daire Doyle.
Bookings: Webster (83).
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Conor Kenna, Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Jake Kelly (Ian Daly, 66), Greg Bolger, Sean O'Connor (Jake Carroll, 79), Chris Forrester, John Russell; Christy Fagan.
Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Aidan Price, Pat Flynn, Owen Hyland, Ryan Coombes.
Bookings: Russell (68), Browne (80).
Referee: Richie Winter.
Attendance: 1,200 (Estimate)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: John Mulroy. The midfielder had a tidy game despite spending large periods chasing the ball and bagged his first goal of the season.