Conan Byrne scored a first-half penalty for St Pat's. Piaras Ó Mídheach
High five

Saints storm to five goal rout as struggling Bray suffer yet another thrashing

St Patrick’s Athletic inched closer towards a European spot with a dominant hammering of Bray in Inchicore on Friday night.

St Patrick’s Athletic 5

Bray Wanderers 0

Aaron Gallagher reports from Richmond Park

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC cruised to a smooth, uncomplicated 5-0 win over struggling Bray Wanderers on Friday night, with the affair far too easy for a Saints side which didn’t have to get out of second gear to ease towards a one-sided victory.

Ambitiously competing for the prospect of a European finish this time 12 months ago, the Seagulls actually left Richmond Park with all three points when the sides met in February of last year in Inchicore.

While the Saints endured their own relegation struggles in the intervening months since that 2-1 defeat, the visitors have fallen further and further into a worrisome myre, with Friday’s defeat their eighth in a row this season, potentially leaving them nine points adrift of safety with a minus 23 goal difference.

Jake Keegan got the hosts up and running after a nip-and-tuck opening 20 minutes with a predatory finish from close range, with Kevin Toner and Conan Byrne adding two more within four minutes of each other before the interval.

Kevin Toner Kevin Toner scored a header to make it 2-0. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

Keegan added his second after half-time, on top of another from Dean Clarke as the game quickly transitioned into a vicious rout.

Liam Buckley’s side were unlucky not to come away from the Brandywell with a point seven days ago, tasting defeat thanks to a controversially ruled out goal and a dramatic goal-line clearance courtesy of Darren Cole with the last kick of the game for Derry City.

They got back to winning ways with this dominant win, however, pushing the side to within three points of a European spot following Shamrock Rovers’ defeat to Dundalk at Oriel Park.

Christy Fagan has been the Saints’ main goal threat over the last number of seasons, but Friday’s win was made possible thanks to a stellar display from ex-FC Edmonton striker Keegan up front.

The Canadian got his tally in the Premier Division this season up and running when he prodded home a Ryan Brennan header from inches out to break the deadlock after 18 minutes.

Another period of patient waiting unfolded before a second was added and the result looked beyond reasonable doubt before the half was even up.

Dave Mackey Bray manager Dave Mackey. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Kevin Toner steered a powerful header flying past goalkeeper Aaron Dillon following a deep corner crossed into the box, with Conan Byrne slotting home a penalty four minutes later to make it a comfortable 3-0 at the break.

It was always damaged limitations for Dave Mackey’s side from thereon in, however they struggled to keep the mounting barrage at bay throughout a dismal and melancholy second period for Bray.

Two minutes before being substituted off to a chorus of applause, Keegan added his second with a powerful strike which veered beyond the fingertips of Dillon.

Dean Clarke rounding the goalkeeper less than five minutes later to slot in another and make it 5-0 with half an hour remaining.

Former Saints captain Conor Kenna, who lifted the Premier Division title at this ground five years ago, alongside central partner Sean Heaney kept the score at that for the final 20 minutes, as constant shots came at them from all angles, but to no avail.

The Saints inch closer towards a European place, while Bray slip further into their relegation woe; conceding an average of three goals per game after just nine outings this season, with all of Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Waterford to come before the month is out.

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC: Barry Murphy; Simon Madden, Lee Desmond, Kevin Toner, Ian Bermingham; Owen Garvan, Ryan Brennan (Graham Kelly 71), Jamie Lennon; Conan Byrne, Dean Clarke (James Doona 74), Jake Keegan (Christy Fagan 60)

BRAY WANDERERS: Aaron Dillon, Hugh Douglas, Conor Kenna, Sean Heany; Andy McGovern, Paul O’Conor, John Sullivan (Dan McKenna 63), Daniel Kelly (Cory Galvin 46), Darragh Noone (Jake Kelly 46), Gary McCabe; Aaron Greene

Referee: Ray Matthews

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