Shamrock Rovers 2-0 Bray Wanderers
Killian Brennan and Dean Clarke struck to secure Shamrock Rovers victory over Bray Wanderers and return the Hoops to winning ways.
Bray Wanderers defender Sean Harding saw red on 64 minutes committing a professional foul on Dean Clarke in a game changing moment.
Killian Brennan found the net from the resulting free kick and Dean Clarke struck seven minutes from time to give Rovers their first win in the last three games.
Bray were sharper out of the tramps with the hosts adopting a surprise five man midfield for the opening exchanges with Stephen McPhail in a deep role.
Rovers boss Pat Fenlon made three changes from Monday nights defeat to Cork City, handing McPhail his first league start of the season and recalling Gary McCabe.
While Gavin Brennan replaced the injured Luke Byrne who is out for the rest of the season. Bray caretaker boss Harry Kenny replaced Hugh Douglas with Ryan Brennan.
Seagull’s central defender Alan McNally became the 25th player to reach 450 league appearances in the leagues 95 year history.
The first real effort of the game came on the quarter hour, Killian Brennan’s speculative attempted chip sailing over Peter Cherries Cross bar.
That was the best it got for the hosts in the first half, Killian Brennan wasting 30 yard free kick effort on 25 minutes, blasting high over the bar.
The visitors equally wasteful two minutes later from a similar position, Sean Harding failing to trouble Barry Murphy as his free kick sailed over.
While Bray were disciplined in their defensive duties, Rovers lacked conviction in the opening period, boss Fenlon clearly audible telling his players “to speed their passing up”.
The hosts packing midfield and allowing just Dean Clarke as the only forward, blunting their attacking play as they lacked support in the final third.
Bray picked up the pace from the restart, Karl Moore’s shot making Murphy gather some dirt on his shorts, a straight forward save, his first of the game.
Bray grew in confidence and while never causing Rovers a major problem in the second half’s opening 15 minutes, they certainly looked more composed.
Pat Cregg finally found some space behind Bray on the hour mark, his pull back from the line, was scuffed by Gary McCabe, summing up Rovers night.
Bray immediately came close to breaking the deadlock, Karl Moore’s picking out Ryan Brennan, who cheekily flicked the ball to Andrew Lewis, Murphy saving with his legs.
The chance woke Rovers up Dean Clarke nipping in between Harding and Cherrie, Clarke unable to find the net from the tight angle.
Bray were reduced to 10 men on 64 minutes as Sean Harding received his marching orders as he bundled over Dean Clarke on the edge of the box, Harding the last defender.
Killian Brennan rubbed salt into the Bray wounds as his low free kick rattled off the wall and escaped the diving Peter Cherrie.
Rovers smelt blood and introduced Danny North for Pat Cregg, immediately moving to two up front, North Movement, creating a half chance for Gary McCabe, who didn’t properly connect.
Dean Clarke secured the points for Rovers who were much improved with seven minutes remaining. Clarke claiming slotting home Simon Madden’s pull back.
North had one speculative effort from the touchline in the final minute, which was easily saved by Cherrie.
Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy, Simon Madden, Robert Cornwall, David Webster, Gavin Brennan, Gary McCabe, Pat Cregg (Danny North 64), Stephen McPhail, Killian Brennan, Brandon Miele, Dean Clarke (Trevor Clarke 85)
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie, Sean Harding, Alan McNally, Conor Kenna, Jason Marks, Dylan Connolly (Mark Salmon 82), Robbie Creevy, Ryan Brennan, Karl Moore, Ger Pender (Darragh Noone 82), Andrew Lewis (Gareth McDonagh 65)
Referee: Tomas Connolly (Dublin)