St Patrick's Athletic 1-0 Bray Wanderers
Greg Bolger’s 45th-minute goal proved pivotal as St Patrick’s Athletic held off an impressive Bray Wanderers in their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division encounter at Richmond Park.
The hosts enjoyed a 1-0 half-time lead after Bolger scored from a James Chambers cross in injury-time, while Conan Byrne rattled the Bray crossbar in the 20th minute.
The second-half saw Wanderers enjoy the greater possession, but, a Graham Kelly effort aside, they failed to trouble the hosts until David Cassidy cracked the Saints crossbar in injury time, depriving his side of a well-deserved point.
Despite the hosts starting impressively, with Conan Byrne prominent down their right flank, it was Bray that created the first chance in the fourth minute as a long-distance strike by Ryan McEvoy had Brendan Clarke scrambling unconvincingly at his far post.
However, it proved a rare initial sortie into enemy territory for Wanderers, with the hosts largely on the front foot, and Chris Forrester should have done better when curling over from the edge of the area five minutes later.
A compact and confident Bray outfit began to take the sting from the home challenge with David Cassidy prompting intelligently and he was denied a shot on goal thanks to a perfectly-timed tackle from Killian Brennan.
In a hugely enjoyable first half, chances continue to arise and Byrne was desperately unfortunate not to open the scoring for the hosts as his rising left-foot shot from 22 yards was tipped acrobatically onto his crossbar by Peter Cherrie before being hacked to safety.
Crucially, Pat's finished the half in the ascendancy and after Brennan had fired wide after a nod down from Jamie McGrath, the Dublin side took the lead in added-time.
The goal came about after strong play from Chambers down the left and as McGrath dummied his cut-back, Bolger timed his run to perfection to leave Cherrie helpless from 12 yards.
The second half resumed with St Pat’s looking to double their advantage and Jason McGuinness narrowly failed to land a decisive touch to Brennan’s inswinging free-kick within five minutes of the restart.
However, their momentum stalled to a degree with the host indebted to Shane McEleney in the 57th minute - the former Derry City player getting a decisive touch to deflect Scully’s low shot away from goal.
There was another escape for St Pat’s four minutes later when Jason McGuinness blocked a Kelly shot after Greene had sloppily conceded possession to Gareth McDonagh by the end-line, but referee Padraigh Sutton waved away the visitor's claims of handball against McGuinness.
The Saints became increasingly unsure defensively as a result of that let-off with Greene once again playing his goalkeeper into trouble as Bray placed incessant pressure on their nervous hosts.
That uncertainty could well have been addressed in the 76th minute when Byrne released McGrath through on goal but Cherrie stood tall to deflect the ball out for a fruitless corner-kick.
Substitute Morgan Langley almost made an instant impact in the 88th minute as he fired narrowly wide from an acute angle, while Cassidy almost earned a point for the Wicklow side in injury-time but his powerful shot cannoned off the crossbar, leaving the Saints to celebrate a club record of nine consecutive league wins.
St Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Shane McEleney, Jason McGuinness, Lee Desmond, Aaron Greene; Conan Byrne, Greg Bolger, James Chambers, Killian Brennan, Christopher Forrester; Jamie McGrath (Morgan Langley, 87).
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie; Hugh Douglas, Alan McNally, Niall Cooney, Michael Barker; Adam Wixted (Gareth McDonagh, 60), Graham Kelly, John Sullivan, Ryan McEvoy, David Cassidy; David Scully (Chris Lyons, 73).
Referee: Padraigh Sutton (Clare)