Cork City 4-0 Bray Wanderers
Cork City moved to within a single point of SSE Airtricity League leaders Dundalk with a ruthless 4-0 win over Bray Wanderers at Turner's Cross, albeit with an extra game played.
Having struggled to find the net on their return to domestic action following their run in Europe, City have now scored 13 goals in the last three games - Gearóid Morrissey, Gavan Holohan, Kenny Browne and Sean Maguire on target on this occasion.
Substitute Ger Pender did have a header cleared off the line by Alan Bennett deep into the second half and tested the crossbar in added time; however, in truth, the visitors rarely threatened Mark McNulty's goal.
City made one enforced change with Garry Buckley drafted into John Caulfield's starting XI in place of the suspended Greg Bolger.
Bray boss Harry Kenny, for his part, made three switches with Tim Clancy, Darragh Noone and Chris Lyons all coming into his team as the club bid to stretch their nine-match unbeaten run in the league.
Knowing well that a win would increase the pressure on Dundalk and their hectic schedule of fixtures ahead, the Leesiders piled the pressure on their opponents in the opening exchanges.
In-form Dylan Connolly was booked for diving, falling under a challenge from Steven Beattie, with just four minutes on the clock.
The first shot in anger came from Gearóid Morrissey moments later but it failed to trouble Wanderers keeper Peter Cherrie. And it was the midfielder that would force the breakthrough with 13 minutes gone.
Holohan and Maguire combined down the right and the former skipped inside the attention of Kevin Lynch to feed a lovely ball back to Morrissey, who took a touch before firing a left-footed shot beyond the reach of Cherrie.
The visitors' net minder came out bravely to block an excellent opportunity for Stephen Dooley not long after, before Mark Salmon registered a shot at the other end - McNulty tipping his long-range effort out for a corner on the half-hour mark.
Karl Sheppard has found a timely vein of form in recent weeks and had a decent chance blocked by Tim Clancy on 36 minutes, but the second goal arrived four minutes later and there was little Bray could do to prevent the lightning move.
It all started with the eventual goal scorer as he passed outside to Buckley, who sent O'Connor free down the left with a lovely pass. The full back's set pieces had troubled Bray all night and a pinpoint ball into the box allowed Holohan to rise the highest and nod home to the bottom corner of the net.
Misty rain started to drift in over Turner's Cross as the game resumed for the second half.
Gearoid Morrissey was booked for a challenge on Connolly within minutes and, showing they were still a danger on the counter, Buckley was forced to take the ball off the Bray man's toe as he burst through on goal on 52 minutes.
Any remaining nerves for the home crowd of 1,715 - the smallest of the season so far for the Rebel Army - were settled with Browne's goal two minutes later. A shot from O'Connor was blocked by Conor Kenna and the resulting corner from Dooley was planted on the centre half's head and allowed him power home.
The Cork faithful were screaming for a penalty kick when Clancy appeared to use his arm to block a cross into the box moments later. Referee Tomás Connolly had no interest in the appeals but, ironically, pointed to the spot less than a minute later as Dooley went down rather easily following a clash with Hugh Douglas.
Maguire, as City's regular penalty taker, placed the ball and blasted his effort low to the left with Cherrie diving the opposite way.
Caulfield immediately rang the changes - bringing on Dave Mulcahy and Colin Healy for goal scorers Browne and Gearoid Morrissey respectively, while Mark O'Sullivan later replaced Maguire.
Dooley and Sheppard might have added even more to City's tally in the final minutes before Pender landed his late effort on the crossbar with McNulty beaten just as the final whistle blew.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Steven Beattie, Alan Bennett, Kenny Browne (Dave Mulcahy 60), Kevin O'Connor; Garry Buckley; Karl Sheppard, Gavan Holohan, Gearoid Morrissey (Colin Healy 60), Stephen Dooley; Sean Maguire (Mark O'Sullivan 65).
Substitutes: Danny Morrissey, Matthew Connor, Michael McSweeney, Chiedozie Ogbene.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie; Hugh Douglas, Connor Kenna, Tim Clancy, Kevin Lynch (Alan Kehoe 63); John Sullivan; Karl Moore, Darragh Noone (Jason Marks 74), Mark Salmon, Dylan Connolly; Chris Lyons (Ger Pender 63).
Substitutes: Lee Steacy, Alan McNally, Paul Finnegan, Gareth McDonagh.
Referee: Tomás Connolly