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You must never judge a game by its scoreline and St Patrick’s Athletic’s 3-0 win over Bray Wanderers in the FAI Ford Cup third round proved that.
Bray were the first to have a real chance in the match when, in the 6th minute, a poor pass from Conan Byrne to Conor Kenna left the latter losing possession to Jason Byrne. The Bray striker then gave the ball in to Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters to finish but he was stopped by the offside flag.
The game really came to life in the 12th minute when Waters won possession and fed John Mulroy, who then picked out the run of Jason Byrne in the box. Byrne tried to pull the ball back across the box but, aided by a wicked deflection off Kenneth Browne, the ball looped up and hit the crossbar before finally going out of play.
Dean Zambra then whipped in a corner which Shane O’Connor headed towards goal with Brendan Clarke stranded. But Ian Bermingham cleared the ball off the line. Three minutes later and sloppy passing from St Pats gave Mulroy the ball. He found Byrne who pulled off a lovely flick straight into the path of Waters. The subsequent cross was blocked before Mulroy could fire it in.
St Pats responded and in the 18th minute, Conan Byrne fed Anthony Flood in the box but his shot hit off Dave Webster and went out. Byrne took the corner and floated the ball to the back post where Browne’s shot was blocked. But the ball fell to Greg Bolger, who fired it into the roof of the net to give the Saints the lead.
Gary Dempsey nearly got Bray level immediately after but he could only put his shot wide. In the 21st minute and minutes later Flood’s effort was well saved by Darren Quigley. Bray came back with Waters receiving the ball on the left and, after beating two defenders, gave the ball to Jason Byrne, whose shot went wide of the post.
The game turned into a midfield battle after this energetic ten minute spell and the next chance didn’t come until the 32nd minute. Zambra was challenged by Greg Bolger in midfield with the ball spinning behind the St Pats defence. Waters was quickest to it and put in a cross to Jason Byrne who went for a stylish flick but failed miserably as the chance was wasted.
St Pats seemed to be inspired by their Barcelonaesque shirts and played keep ball for the rest of the half. Just before half time, O’Brien fizzed in a cross to the back post but Maher could only head over.
Less than five minutes after the restart, Ian Bermingham tried to pass the ball across the backline but picked out Waters instead. The Bray striker hit a lovely curling shot towards the top left corner but Brendan Clarke somehow clawed it away. Maher then had a chance to score at the other end but fired over after Conan Byrne had cut in and fed him the ball.
Then, in the 61st minute, it was 2-0. Conan Byrne picked up the ball on the right, cut in and beat two players before firing a shot past Quigley from outside the box. Again, Dempsey nearly pulled a goal back immediately afterwards with two great chances but they were both missed.
Things got even worse for Bray in the 67th minute when Danny O’Connor’s poor touch allowed Christy Fagan to take the ball off him. Fagan tried to chip Quigley but failed when Danny O’Connor was adjudged to have fouled him and a penalty was given. Killian Brennan made no mistake from the spot to make it 3-0.
Bray still hadn’t given up and they had two great chances to get back into the game. The first was a Webster free kick which was just tipped over by Clarke. Then in the 74th minute, Bermingham played another horrible back pass and Ismahil Akinade had the goal at his mercy but put the ball wide of the left hand post.
Bray petered out after that and St Pats were happy to take the foot off the gas and play keep ball. Liam Buckley’s men had one more chance in the 84th minute when a quick Brennan free and a one-two with Conan Byrne allowed Fagan to have a shot which was blocked. The game finished with St Pats through to the next round but it could have been very different.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley; Shane O’Connor, Danny O’Connor (c), Dave Webster, Conor Earley; Dean Zambra, Gary Dempsey, Kevin O’Connor (Kevin Knight 78), Kieran Marty Waters; John Mulroy (Sean Hurley 90), Jason Byrne (Ismahil Akinade 68).
Subs not used: Shane Redmond (gk), Sean Noble, Adam Mitchell, Niall Cooney.
Booked: Kevin O’Connor
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Conor Kenna (c), Kenny Browne, Ian Bermingham; Conan Byrne, Stephen Maher (Shane McFaul 63), Greg Bolger, Killian Brennan, Chris Forrester (Daryl Kavanagh 70); Anthony Flood (Christy Fagan 46).
Subs not used: Rene Gilmartin (gk), Aidan Price, Jake Kelly, Sean Gannon.
Booked: Flood, Bermingham.
Referee: Padraig Sutton.
Attendance: 700 (estimate)
Extratime Man of the Match: Conan Byrne (St Patrick’s Athletic). Conan was involved in the first goal and scored the second which settled St Patrick’s nerves. He was constantly making runs down the right hand side and was pulling the strings whenever St Pats attacked.