A LATE Mark Quigley goal was enough to keep St Patrick's Athletic on target for a place in Europe next season with a narrow victory over Bray Wanderers in a tense Premier Division clash at the Carlisle Grounds last night.
With the huge fixture list backlog facing St Patrick's, it was no surprise that boss John McDonnell made six changes in his starting line-up from the side that lost 2-0 to Hertha Berlin in the Uefa Cup in Germany on Tuesday.
After the disappointment of their 2-0 FAI Cup exit at home to Galway United on Tuesday, Bray made two changes with teenager Jake Kelly taking over from veteran Andy Myler in attack and Daryl Robson replacing Alan Cawley in midfield.
In a disappointing opening half hour, neither keeper had a serious shot to deal with as both defences dominated.
The nearest Bray came to breaking the deadlock came on 39 minutes when defender Kevin Doherty had a header just over the bar after a free by Gavin Whelan on the right.
Keeper Alan Gough then came to Bray's rescue when getting down to block an effort by Alan Kirby from close range after defender Ray Kenny misjudged a clearance. But those were the limited moments of excitement in a drab first half.
The Inchicore men showed more urgency early in the second half when a free by Keith Fahey was blocked by Gough after Derek Pender was adjudged to have played a deliberate back pass to his keeper.
Then striker Glen Fitzpatrick had a close range flick deflected for a corner after a dangerous low cross from Alan Kirby on the left.
All that pressure eventually told on 81 minutes when substitute Gary O'Neill produced a perfect cross from the left for striker Quigley to stab the ball home from a narrow angle for his 13th league goal of the season.
© Irish Times