There may have been biblical rainfall and severe flooding in Cork this week but as the sun broke out in Bray on Friday night, the Leesiders’ football team turned on the summer style as they swathed aside a feeble Wanderers challenge.
Having broken the deadlock after only five minutes, City were comfortable throughout in arguably their best performance since returning to the top flight this season. For Bray, however, there is much to ponder.
The game plan for Wanderers, lining out in a 451 formation with Jason Byrne up top, was clearly to get on top in midfield. But within minutes their hopes of stifling Cork were torn to shreds. Tadhg Purcell, in the final game before his loan spell ends with Cork, headed home following Daryl Horgan’s fantastic cross from the left.
Bray’s performance could have been summed up by one moment in the 26th minute. Under littler pressure and with the ball at his feet, Dane Massey attempted a 15 yard pass. It screwed off his boot and out for a throw-in, much to the delight of the away support on the sideline. It may sound cruel to highlight a single stray pass but it was a moment which showed up all of their defensive deficiencies.
Going forward the Seagulls remained a threat, Sean Houston firing a powerful drive towards goal which Mark McNulty did well to save, but they continuously looked culpable at the back. Cork carved out most of the best chances over the 90 minutes, Purcell almost notching a second with a strong header after climbing to reach Gearóid Morrissey’s corner and Daryl Horgan drilling narrowly over from 25 yards.
The second, a killer blow as far as Bray were concerned, arrived on 34 minutes. Colin Healy in an advanced position up the field, swung a beautiful ball in from the right and Duggan, following on from his equalising goal against Derry last weekend, added the finishing touch from eight yards.
Bray did finish the half with a bit more of the ball but their only attempt of note came on the stroke of the break when Jason Byrne struck a right-footed free-kick well over the bar.
Badly in need of an early goal at the beginning of the second period, Wanderers looked like a team in a hurry, pushing forward with much more verve than in the opening 45.
A curling Massey dead-ball was only a whisker away from 25 yards on 47, although City remained dangerous in attack too. Purcell almost notched his second only to pull his effort wide following great work from Vinny Sullivan and Daryl Horgan on the right flank with 49 minutes on the clock.
They enjoyed a larger share of the ball but continuously failed to breakdown a much improved Cork defence and with 25 minutes to play, the Leesiders wrapped it up. Man of the match Duggan played a neat ball through the centre of the Bray defence for Sullivan to latch on to.
With Darren Quigley quick off his line, the striker remained composed and rounded the keeper before tapping into the empty net. It proved to be his last action of the evening as he was immediately subbed off for Davin O’Neill, while Kevin Murray was also introduced for the travelling team – his first appearance since re-joining the club following knee surgery at the beginning of the year.
His first piece of action was a mistimed challenge on Kieran Waters on the edge of the area with seven minutes to play but the free was blocked. Gearóid Morrissey, meanwhile, almost added a fourth after a nice pass from Stephen Kenny but the damage had already been done.
Kenny was harshly sent off for a second yellow card, even though he was only on the pitch 12 minutes, with three minutes to go but it didn’t do anything to alter the outcome as City extended their unbeaten run to nine.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; Daire Doyle, Danny O’Connor, Shane O’Connor (Adam Mitchell 75), Dane Massey; Kieran Waters, Dean Zambra, John Mulroy, Sean Houston, Kevin Knight (Adam Hanlon, 46); Jason Byrne (Sean Hurley 70).
Subs not used: Brian Kane, Anthony Bolger, Conor Butler, Pierce Sweeney.
Booked: J Byrne (24), S O’Connor (68).
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Colin Healy, Gavin Kavanagh (Kevin Murray 79), Kalen Spillane, Danny Murphy; Gearóid Morrissey, John Dunleavy, Shane Duggan, Daryl Horgan; Tadhg Purcell (Stephen Kenny 75), Vinny Sullivan (Davin O’Neill 65)
Subs not used: Kevin Burns, Ian Turner, Dan Murray, Neal Horgan
Booked: D Murphy (9), S Kenny (81), K Murray (83).
Sent off: S Kenny (87).
Referee: Damien Hancock.
Attendance: 1,200 (estimate)
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Shane Duggan (Cork City).
Alan Smith works as a sub-editor for the Guardian newspaper in London. Originally from Cork, he freelances for several other newspapers and websites. Follow him on twitter @alansmith90.