St. Patrick's Athletic extended their winning run to six games in all competitions as they came from a goal behind with ten men to defeat Bray Wanderers 4-2 at the Carlisle Grounds in the SEE Airtricity League on this evening.
Liam Buckley's side were far from their best for much of a controversial, yet entertaining, encounter but mustered enough resolve to overcome an embattled Bray side, who played the majority of the game with a man advantage after Ken Oman's first-half dismissal.
Chris Forrester's dazzling strike from 25 yards shortly before the interval cancelled out Jake Kelly's opener from the spot and provided the spark the visitors required after a lethargic start. Forrester skipped his way past a couple of challenges before unleashing an unstoppable drive that cannoned off the underside off the bar.
It had seemed Pats' vexation would continue as play was waved on but the officials consulted and 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.
Liam Buckley's side now sit eight points behind leaders Dundalk but they were made to sweat for a third straight victory in the league. Three points away from home rounds off a satisfactory fortnight for the Saints but their exacting fixture list could have caught up with them here.
Initially, they were caught cold by purposeful opposition who had clearly benefited from an additional week off.
Since Bray's last outing a fortnight ago, the Saints had played three games, in three competitions, during that time; it showed from the outset at the Carlisle Grounds.
Before Pat's had even found their feet, they could have been a couple behind.
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 eleven 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.
It mattered little to Bray and Kelly in particular. The winger failed to live up to expectation during a brief spell at Richmond Park but is proving his worth to the Seagulls once more - this was his fifth goal of the season.
He nearly turned provider minutes later having been afforded far too much time and space down the left but Akinade could only head into the hands of Clarke when he should have done better.
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 but were indebted to a moment of individual brilliance to ignite their cause.
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 healthy Saints contingent 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 a last-ditch block by Dave Webster.
The Bray rearguard were left helpless by Forrester's strike, however.
For all the Seagulls' diligence and tenacity in the central areas, their toil is so often undermined by a leaky and disjointed defence.
That they find themselves nervously looking over their shoulder, on this evidence anyway, can only be attributed to an inability to keep out the opposition.
All their work from the first half was undone by those nine 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 ten minutes remaining as he headed Graham Kelly's corner into the bottom corner but after Cassidy struck the outside of the post and Brennan headed Akinade's goalbound effort over, it wasn't to be.