A sublime first goal of the season from Gavan Holohan helped to end Drogheda United’s slump as they beat freefalling Bray Wanderers 3-1 to climb above them in the Premier Division table.
Drogheda had lost their previous six league games on the spin - and 11 of their last 12. But they belied that shocking form as their early enterprise brought them a fourth minute lead at the Carlisle Grounds.
Bray's defending was negligent as Daire Doyle’s ball into their area was chested down by Gary O’Neill for Gavin Brennan to score with a side-foot finish for what was his fourth goal of the league campaign.
Bray, themselves taking a run of five games without a win into the game, settled and really should have levelled on 16 minutes.
Graham Kelly whipped over their second corner of the game, but central defender Adam Mitchel somehow planted his free header from 10 yards wide of keeper Micheal Schlingermann's left-hand post.
Two minutes later, Bray deservedly levelled. Drogheda defender Alan McNally was yellow-carded for bringing down Graham Kelly on the edge of the area.
Further punishment duly arrived from Jake Kelly, who blasted the resulting free kick straight through the wall and into the roof of the net.
But in an even game, Drogheda regained the lead on 36 minutes from a piece of magic from Holohan.
The midfielder showed terrific feet as he slalomed past three defenders before firing a right-footed shot into the far corner of Stephen McGuinness's net for a superb goal.
The woodwork prevented Drogheda extending their lead two minutes into the second half when O’Neill’s diving header from skipper Shane Grimes' super cross came back of the bar.
Grimes brought a good save from McGuinness before Bray’s troubles deepened when Mitchell was sent off for a foul on Holohan, his second booking, on 59 minutes.
Bray - who have now lost five of their last six - came within inches of an equaliser 10 minutes later when Adam Hanlon’s header from a David Cassidy cross came back off a post.
But it was Drogheda who finished with a flourish as Brennan and Declan O’Brien set-up Cathal Brady to dink the ball over McGuinness for their third goal two minutes into added time.
Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness; Eric McGill, Adam Mitchell, Shane O’Connor (Robert Maloney 23); Adam Hanlon, Dean Zambra, David Cassidy (Ciaran Byrne 75), Shane O’Neill; Graham Kelly; Ismahil Akinade (Dave Scully 62), Jake Kelly.
Drogheda United: Micheal Schlingermann (Dylan Connolly 90+2); Daire Doyle, Mick Daly, Alan McMally, Shane Grimes; Carl Walshe, Stephen Maher, Gavan Holohan, Gavin Brennan, Cathal Brady; Gary O’Neill (Declan O'Brein 85).
Referee: Rob Harvey (Dublin).