Waterford FC grabbed a big victory in their pursuit of European football tonight as they defeated bottom side Bray Wanderers 2-0 in a one-sided affair at the RSC.
The Blues had won just one of their last six league fixtures but goals in either half from Sander Puri and Noel Hunt ensured the travelling Seagull's wouldn't add to their tally of one point away from the Carlisle Grounds all season.
While Gary Cronin made no changes to his starting eleven after they suffered a 0-3 loss to Shamrock Rovers a fortnight ago, Alan Reynolds made six changes from the side who were dumped out of the FAI Cup by UCD last weekend.
The Blues were comfortable in possession from the opening minute but spent the majority of the opening half unable to create significant chances. Rory Feely headed a Stanley Aborah corner over the bar and the busy Cory Galvin had a volleyed effort blocked for a corner within the opening ten minutes.
While the visitors were pinned back into their own half, Waterford were restricted to long-range efforts - two Aborah shots and a similar Puri strike were blazed off target while Galvin tamely fired low at Evan Moran from 25 yards having spun away from Paul O'Conor.
In the 38th minute, replacement keeper Mark O'Connor's first touch, a low driven goal-kick, met the head of Aborah before Feely found Galvin, who dangerously received the ball in the pocket between defence and midfield a number of times in the opening half. The former Bray man slid in Puri and the Estonian international calmly clipped the ball into the right side of the goal for the opener.
Kenny Browne glanced an Aborah free into the hands of O'Connor before the half concluded and the home fans thought the lead had been extended 40 seconds after the restart when Hunt drilled Aborah's perfectly weighted through ball into the net, but the player/coach was deemed offside.
An innovative Aborah free kick was scooped over shortly afterwards as the fourth-place side pushed to double their lead but the game entered a lull for 15 minutes. Reynolds' men remained patient in their build-up and the bottom side couldn't carve out chances on the counter before the game was essentially put to bed with 20 minutes remaining.
A ball from the right ricocheted around the Bray box and former international Hunt spun sharply to drive the ball goalwards from close range.
From there both sides had opportunities to score - Ger Pender having the Seagull's sole effort on target after O'Conor played him in while Holohan nodded over from beneath the crossbar - but neither net was rippled meaning the Blues remain just two points behind third-place Shamrock Rovers.
Waterford FC: Niall Corbet; Noe Baba, Kenny Browne, Garry Comerford, Dylan Barnett; Stanley Aborah (Hutchinson, 88), Paul Keegan (C); Rory Feely, Cory Galvin (Galvin, 66), Sander Puri; Noel Hunt (Akinade, 80).
Bray Wanderers: Evan Moran (O'Connor, 36); Darragh Gibbons, Conor Kenna (C), Sean Heaney, Kevin Lynch; Sean Harding (Sullivan, 83), Rhys Gorman, Paul O’Conor, Daragh Noone (Crilly, 79); Jake Kelly; Ger Pender.
Referee: Neil Doyle