Bray Wanderers secured a dramatic and very important late win over Saint Patrick's Athletic at the Carlisle Grounds. Both teams finished with ten men as card-happy referee Paul McKeon made more than one questionable decision.
There was no lacking in commitment from either side in the game but a lack of quality was apparent and the recent departure of Bray's Eamon Zayed didn't help matters.
Robbie Doyle had the first real chance of the game after seven minutes but his shot was saved down low by Bray keeper Chris O'Connor, ultimately pushing the ball behind for a corner kick. The resulting kick founds its way to Doyle but his shot went flying high and wide.
An important incident arose around the ten minute mark. Bray captain Colm Tresson was booked for something he said to McKeon. It would prove crucial later.
Stephen Fox hooked the ball not far over for Bray on the quarter hour.
For the reds of the half neither side managed a shot of real note at goal. O'Connor claimed a number of dangerous crosses under pressure while Bray were failing to create much in the final third.
Doyle almost got in for Bray but fouled Tresson on his way to goal. Fox went close from David Tyrell's corner kick before the break but as half-time arrived hopes of avoiding a scoreless draw were fading.
Fox went close within two minutes of the restart flashing his shot just wide. Keith Dunne couldn't find a good finish after a good passing move from the Saints.
Bray's Tyrell wasn't too far away with a curling long range shot as both sides tried to increase their creativity.
The first controversial sending off came on 54 minutes when Doyle pushed the ball past Tresson and then collided with the defender. Tresson was shown his second yellow card of the night although it was at least a little harsh with Tresson having little chance to avoid the collision. Bray were down to ten men and previously would have attempted to shut up shop and hold the scoreless draw.
However, this Bray side was more sparked into life than anything else by the red card.
The visitors' inability to create an opening with a numerical advantage says a lot about the state of affairs at the Inchicore club. Michael Foley had a shot blocked while Alan Reilly's shot was curling wider and wider as it went out.
Doyle blasted over for an increasingly frustrated Pats team. Both clubs had added attacking players during the week and both got a run in the closing 20 minutes. Paul Murphy came in for Bray while Glen Larsen came in for John McDonnell's Saints.
The second controversial sending off arrived with six minutes remaining. An innocuous enough ball into the visitors' box seemed under control. Bray's Kieran O'Brien made a late rush to chase it but went down after a collision with Darragh Maguire. The Saints defender was shown a straight red card and although there may well have been a foul committed by Maguire, it's hard to see how it could have been ruled a professional foul.
When calm was restored Kieran 'Tarzan' O'Brien put the ball down and took aim with the free kick. The shot crashed against the angle of the crossbar but while some of the visitors may have been sure luck was on their side, Fox chased down the loose ball and fired it back into the box. O'Brien was still in there and got the vital touch to turn the ball past Barry Ryan.
A fluffed shot from Reilly was about as much as the Saints could muster and Waterford and Harps' inability to pick up consistent points is all that stands between St. Pats and a relegation dog-fight.