Bray Wanderers 1 Cork City 3
CORK City stretched their unbeaten run to 18 league games after they defeated Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night.
Goals from Cian Murphy, Jonas Hakkenin and Ruairi Keating were enough to give Colin Healy’s side the victory. Darragh Lynch had given Bray hope with his goal but City continued their impressive form and their match towards the First Division title with another professional performance.
City named the same starting 11 that defeated Treaty United. Recent signing Louis Britton was ineligible for the clash due to the club being unable to register the player in time to feature as the transfer window had just opened that day.
Despite being the away side, City took the game to Bray from the first whistle. The league leaders made their intentions clear that they were in search of all three points from the Carlisle grounds.
They should have taken the lead when Murphy was put through on goal from Cian Bargary’s long-throw, but the former was unable to execute the pass to Keating, which would have left City’s top-scorer with the simplest of finishes.
City went ahead in the 15th minute when Murphy's excellent movement was spotted with a superb through ball by Matt Srbely and the striker made no mistake with his finish. The timing of the goal came at the right moment for City, as Bray had been enjoying their best spell in the game before conceding.
The hosts weren’t disheartened by going behind. They continued to enjoy a lot of possession of the ball without ever causing the City defenders any real issues. It was no surprise to see City’s defensive shape frustrate Bray as Healy’s side have been excellent all season with how they set up without the ball.
The early goal allowed City to sit off Bray and invite pressure on themselves, as they looked to counter-attack quickly when they turned over possession and use the pace of Murphy in behind the Seagull’s defence.
The Rebel Army should have been further ahead after Bargary danced his way into the penalty box and managed to find Keating on the edge of the six-yard area. However, the striker was unable to hit the target much to the fans' disbelief. In Keating’s defence, his effort did appear to come off of a Bray player but he still should have done better.
James Doona, who was making his second successive start for the first time this campaign, produced a moment of magic when he went past three Bray players before cutting inside and getting a strike off. Unfortunately for the former Athlone Town player, Stephen McGuinness did well to hold onto his effort.
City deservedly increased their lead right on the half-time whistle. McGuinness was unable to hold onto the first strike on his goal and Hakkinen was on hand to capitalise on the keeper's mistake.
Doona’s quality was on show early in the second half. The midfielder demonstrated the talent he has with some eye-catching passes and neat touches. Murphy’s willingness to make intelligent runs were key to giving Doona the option of completing those difficult passes.
Callum Thompson came close to getting his side back into the game. The winger found himself unmarked just inside the City penalty but struck off-target. Credit must go to Kevin O’Connor for the way he was able to do enough to put off Thompson from getting on the scoresheet.
Bray did start to cause City problems. Kurtis Byrne was guilty of wasting a great opportunity before Lynch did manage to find a way past David Harrington. The striker was in the right place to get on the end of a wonderful cross into the box before directing a powerful header beyond Harrington, giving the keeper no chance.
City restored their two-goal advantage with 19 minutes remaining. Keating was quickest to react to another error from McGuinness after the former Bohemians keeper failed to deal with Doona’s cross.
City’s evening was made easier when Bray were reduced to ten men. Conor Clifford was rightfully given his marching orders after the player seemed to lean his head in towards Aaron Bolger after the Bray captain was unhappy with a challenge from the City player.
McGuinness; Blackbyrne, Hudson, Knight (Callaghan 88), Massey (Manahan 52); Fox, Thompson (Labutis 82), Clifford, McManus, Feeney (Byrne 52); Lynch.
Harrington; Hakkinen, Honohan, O’Connor (Gilchrist 73); Bargary (Hurley 85), Bolger (Crowley 85), Coleman, Srbely (Healy 64), Doona (McGlade 73); Murphy, Keating.