Saint Patrick's Athletic retained their place at the top of the Airtricity League Premier Division table following a 2-0 victory over Bray Wanderers at Inchicore on Friday night. Two first half goals from Christy Fagan was enough to give Liam Buckley's team the win.
There wasn't much to choose between the two sides in the early stages of the game. That was until the sixth minute when the home side took the lead. John Russell played a cross field ball to the left hand side and picked out Chris Forrester. Forrester played a neat little ball to Ian Bermingham. Bermingham's cross from the left found Christy Fagan who had the simple task of putting the ball into the empty net from close range.
Bray should have got back on level terms in the 17th minute. Kevin O'Connor made a fine run forward from midfield and played it to his left to Jason Byrne. Byrne returned the ball to his team mate who found himself in space in the area. O'Connor turned and got his shot away but his effort ended up wide.
Pats nearly went two up in the 24th minute. Conan Byrne found himself with time and space on the right hand side. He put an inviting cross into the area. Shane McFaul met it and headed goal wards but the ball hit the top of the crossbar and went over.
However just four minutes later it was 2-0. This time right-back Ger O'Brien found himself free on the right. He put a dangerous ball into the six yard box and Fagan was there once again to knock it home from close range for his ninth goal of the season.
Chris Forrester had a chance to make it three in the 36th minute. John Russell played an excellent ball in behind the Bray defence. He picked out Forrester who found himself one on one with Darren Quigley. Forrester's shot was on target but Quigley dived low to his right to make the save.
Saint Patrick's Athletic right-back also got forward to good affect for the home side soon after. He made his way into the area and picked out Fagan whose first time shot was parried by Quigley. The rebound fell to O'Brien who shot over.
There weren't as many chances for either side in the second half. However Bray did have a couple of opportunities after the interval. After Saint Pats failed to properly clear a corner the ball broke to John Mulroy on the edge of the area. Mulroy's shot deflected to Jason Byrne who decided to try his luck with a back heel. His effort was heading goal wards but there wasn't enough power behind it to trouble Brendan Clarke.
Ishmail Akinade came close soon after. Kevin Knight crossed from the left and picked out the Nigerian who got his header away but the ball went over.
The home side began to have more of the play as the half went on. Conan Byrne struck one just over the bar from the right hand side of the area in the 68th minute after Bray failed to properly clear a corner. Then in the 73rd minute Christy Fagan chipped it into the six yard box and picked out Byrne who met it with his head but couldn't keep it down.
To make matters worse for Bray Wanderers, defender David Webster was sent-off by referee Alan Kelly for a second bookable offence in the 87th minute. Webster did not agree with the decision.
Conan Byrne had a chance to make it three in the final minute of injury time. Chris Forrester played a sublime ball from left to right to pick out Byrne. Saint Pat's number seven made his way into the area. He tried to chip Darren Quigley but he couldn't get the ball over the Bray goalkeeper.
Saint Patrick's Athletic held on for a fairly comfortable victory. The victory means that are now three points clear of second placed Derry City, although Pats have played a game more than their nearest
Saint Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O'Brien, Conor Kenna (c), Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, Greg Bolger, Shane McFaul (Stephen Maher 67), John Russell (Sean Gannon 81), Christopher Forrester; Christy Fagan (Anto Flood 74).
Subs not used: Peter Durrad, Jake Kelly, Dave Ryan, Aidan Price.
Booked: Kenny Browne (80), Ian Bermingham (89)
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; Eoin Hyland (Adam Mitchell 77), David Webster, Shane O'Connor, Kevin Knight; Ishmail Akinade, Kevin O'Connor (Conor Earley 83), Dean Zambra, Kieran Marty Waters; John Mulroy, Jason Byrne (c).
Subs not used: Danny O'Connor, Daire Doyle, Shane O'Neill, Sean Hurley, Sean Holmes.
Booked: David Webster (15), Kevin Knight (51).
Sent-off: David Webster (87).
Referee: Alan Kelly.
Extratime.ie man of the match: Christy Fagan (Saint Patrick's Athletic).