Shamrock Rovers’ chase for Europe moved a step closer as they climbed to third place in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division after a comfortable win over Bray Wanderers.

In front of the biggest Carlisle Grounds crowd of the season (1,798), Stephen Bradley’s team sent basement Bray closer to the relegation trap door.

In the two matches between the clubs at Tallaght Stadium this year, Rovers had put 11 goals past Wanderers without reply.

Yet, they had last lost their last three visits to the seaside since 2017. 

But that changed by sheer persistence by Dan Carr who created the opening goal eight minutes before the interval.

He beat former Hoops Sean Heaney to the ball down the right flank and skipped back towards goal by from the end-line. His low centre saw skipper Ronan Finn get the vital touch to divert in inside the six-yard area.

The Hoops deservedly doubled that lead in the 65th minute.

FULL MATCH DETAILS

Sean Kavanagh was bundled over in the box by Darragh Gibbons. Just like at Oriel Park last Tuesday, Dylan Watts made no mistake from the penalty.

Watts then turned provider as Rovers went three up in the 77th minute. He rolled a pass to Brandon Miele who angled his low drive beyond Evan Moran from 12-yards.

Brandon Miele

Bray didn’t earn a single corner in the match. But were left to rue two first half chances with the tie still score-less.

Kevin Lynch’s fifth minute burst from his own half saw the left-back set-up Jake Kelly whose low drive from 15-yards was straight at Alan Mannus.

Then the 26th minute by Bray. Kelly’s ingenuity saw him spin off two opponents just outside the box. He squared right to Sean Harding who cut back inside Sean Kavanagh but blazed over from 16-yards.

The visitors perhaps should have went into the break with a two-goal cushion.

In the last minute of the period, Conor Kenna headed Watt’s corner off the line. 

From the resulting flag-kick that followed by Watts, the ball was again hacked clear from the goal-line before Robert Lopez sliced the rebound wide.

Bray Wanderers: Evan Moran: Darragh Gibbons, Conor Kenna, Sean Heaney, Kevin Lynch; Sean Harding, Rhys Gorman, Paul O’Conor, Daragh Noone; Jake Kelly (Glen Hollywood 87); Ger Pender (Jake Ellis 74)

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Ethan Boyle, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Sean Kavanagh; Greg Bolger, Ronan Finn (Gary Shaw 79); Joel Coustrain (Brandon Kavanagh 73), Dylan Watts, Brandon Miele; Daniel Carr (Aaron Greene 57).

Referee: Robert Hennessy (Clare).