Saint Patrick’s Athletic took all three points with a 3-1 win away at Bray and with it a giant step towards a first league title since 1999.

Anto Flood's first-half goal from close range gave the Saints the lead they deserved before John Russell doubled the visitors advantage with his smart header midway through the second half.

However, a fine finish from Ismail Akinade with seven minutes to go set St Pat's nerves jangling before Christy Fagan made sure of the win in injury time with a well-taken goal.

This was a game in which the champions-elect made it difficult for themselves and almost allowed Bray to snatch a share of the spoils in the last ten minutes having been 2-0 up and cruising.

The opening goal came on 37 minutes. Killian Brennan send over a cross from the right hand side. It was deflected and as Bray appealed for offside it fell to John Russell at the back post.

Russell should have scored but couldn‘t connect, thankfully for him and Pat’s, Flood was on hand to spare his blushes and fire it home from point blank range.

Despite not having played particularly well to his point, St Pat’s could, and perhaps should, have doubled their lead just one minute later. Conan Byrne sent a cross to the back post and John Russell was not too far away with his header at the back post.

Five minutes later Jason Byrne missed a gilt-edged chance to level it for Bray. A long throw from Kieran Marty Waters was headed straight into the air by Conor Kenna. When it fell to Byrne on the penalty spot, he blasted his shot wildly over the bar.

The away side started the second half with real intent, and had three good chances within five minutes of the restart.

Forty seconds into the half Russell picked it up in the middle of the Park and drove straight at the Bray defence. He shot from 18 yards was straight at Quigley, who needed two attempts to claim it as Daryl Kavanagh came rushing at him.

Next up it was Flood, who cut inside from the left and curled a shot from the edge of the box which Quigley did very well to get down to save.

On 50 minutes a lovely move through the centre from Russell and Brennan set Flood clear just inside the box, but he shot straight at the keeper.

Midway through the second-half St Pat’s deservedly doubled their lead. Anto Flood took possession on the left hand side and deep in Bray territory. His back-heel found Ian Bermingham, who stood up a great cross for Russell, who made no mistake with the header and the away fans could begin to dare to dream of league championship glory.

Against the run of play, Bray got back into the match with 83 minutes on the clock. Ismail Akinade picked up on a loose ball, split the Pat’s defence in two, shot low into the corner and suddenly it was squeaky-bum time for all associated with the Inchicore team.

Things were to become even more tense as substitute John Mulroy had a chance to equalise for Bray on 90 minutes, but his shot was well saved by Brendan Clarke in the Pat’s goal.

Deep into injury time another substitute - Christy Fagan - restored the two-goal advantage with a powerful finish from just inside the box and Pat’s six-point advantage at the top of the pile was confirmed.

Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley, David Webster, Danny O’Connor (Daire Doyle 88), Gary Dempsey (Kevin Knight 63), Kevin O’Connor, Ishmail Akinade, Jason Byrne (John Mulroy 63), Kieran Marty Waters, Conor Early, Shane O’Connor, Dean Zambra

St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke, Ger O’Brien, Conor Kenna, Aidan Price, Greg Bolger, Conan Byrne (Chris Forrester 68), John Russell, Killian Brennan, Ian Bermingham, Anto Flood (Christy Fagan 76), Daryl Kavanagh

Referee: N Doyle