Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Donall Farmer/INPHO Chris Forrester of Pat's scores his side's first goal.
# Winning
Forrester stunner inspires 10-man Pat's to victory at Bray
The youngster scored a fine solo goal as his side prevailed comfortably ultimately.

Bray Wanderers 2-4 St Patrick’s Athletic

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC aren’t going to relinquish their crown easily, not yet anyway. The odds are heavily stacked against them to defend the SEE Airtricity League but a third consecutive victory moves them within eight points of the summit and they’re clicking into gear as the business end of the season nears. You can’t write them off just yet, you know.

They face an uphill task to oust Dundalk, or indeed Cork, from the
top spot with just a handful of games remaining, but Liam Buckley’s side displayed the tenacity and resolve required to stage a late title assault at the Carlisle Grounds.

A slow and disjointed start saw the visitors reduced to 10 men and go a goal behind after Ken Oman scythed down David Cassidy in the area after just 11 minutes. The Saints were far from their best for much of proceedings and were indebted to a moment of individual brilliance from Chris Forrester to ignite their cause.

Forrester’s dazzling strike from twenty-five yards shortly before the interval cancelled out Jake Kelly’s opener from the spot and provided the spark the visitors required after their lethargic start. The midfielder skipped his way past a couple of challenges before unleashing an unstoppable drive that cannoned off the underside off the bar, as assistant referee Michelle O’Neill correctly adjudged the ball to have crossed the line.

From that juncture, the visitors were on the front foot and settled proceedings during nine madcap minutes after the interval. Keith Fahey and Conan Byrne both scored with crosses and while Adam Hanlon pulled one back for the Seagulls in the dying stages,
Byrne had already given Pat’s a healthy advantage with a composed finish from the edge of the box.

In the end, it was comfortable for the healthy contingent of Saints, but for long periods, it was far from it. David Cassidy, playing between the lines, found pockets of space all evening and was central to the hosts’ industry. Twice he played a probing pass in the final third during the opening exchanges but, after just two minutes, the onrushing Hanlon was unable to fire past Brendan Clarke on the angle.

Pat’s failed to take heed and were made to pay after just 11 minutes. Hanlon’s lofted ball was knocked down by Ismhail Akinade, once more exposing the disjointed defence, before Oman’s intervention. There could be no arguments over the official’s decision to point to the spot but the visitors were adamant there was cover — replays affirmed their claims to be legitimate.

Alan Mathews’ side would have been all too aware that they needed to extend their advantage while they were on the front foot. As it was, Pat’s woke from their stupour shortly before the half hour mark. Until Forrester had jinked away from a couple of green and white shirts and unleashed an unstoppable drive past Stephen McGuinness via the underside of the bar, the Saints had good reason to wonder if it was going to be one of those nights.

Killian Brennan spurned a glorious opportunity when he was given the freedom of the penalty area, and Christy Fagan was twice thwarted from close range, firstly by McGuinness and then through a last-ditch block by Dave Webster.

For all the Seagull’s diligence and tenacity in the central areas, their toil is so often undermined by a leaky and disjointed defence. All their work from the first half was undone by nine madcap minutes after the interval. Fahey’s harmless cross from the left was allowed travel across the box and when McGuinness realised it needed to be dealt with, it was too late. Then, Niall Cooney was inexplicably caught in possession by Forrester, Fahey committed two defenders and Byrne made no mistake from the edge of the area.

Byrne doubled his tally and his side’s advantage shortly after the hour mark as an intended cross caught McGuinness unaware and compounded the misery for the young goalkeeper. Hanlon gave the hosts some hope of salvaging something with 10 minutes remaining as he headed Graham Kelly’s past Clarke but it was too
little too late.

It remains to be seen if the Saints have left their title assault too late.

Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness; Niall Cooney, Dave Webster, Adam Mitchell, Joe Gorman; Adam Hanlon, Graham Kelly, Dean Zambra, Jake Kelly; David Cassidy (Shane O’Neill, 77’); Ismahil Akinade (David Scully, 70’).

Subs not used: Gavin Sheridan, Shane O’Connor, Ryan Swan, Michael Brown, Gareth McDonagh.

St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Ger O’Brien, Ken Oman, Sean Hoare, Aaron Greene; Conan Byrne, Greg
Bolger, Keith Fahey (James Chambers, 78’), Killian Brennan, Chris Forrester (Lorcan Fitzgerald, 90’); Christy Fagan (Mark Quigley, 70’)

Subs not used: Pat Jennings, Derek Foran, Sam Verdon, Conor McCormack.

Referee: Paul Tuite

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