John Caulfield’s side followed up Friday’s 5-2 league victory over Longford Town with another demolition job as two goals in each half kept the pressure on Stephen Kenny’s champions, although the Lilywhites have a game in hand.
“Right from the start we were at it,” said Caulfield last night. “Slick passing, we got the early goal. It was all about keeping the intensity up, and we did that.”
City went into the Longford game without a league win in three games. The last time they went three league games without a win, they followed it up with eight straight victories and they will need a similar run of form if they are to wrest the league title away from Dundalk this season.
Caulfield was forced into making one change to the side that beat Longford Town on Friday, with the suspended Greg Bolger being replaced by fit-again Garry Buckley.
Bray Wanderers have been revitalised of late since Harry Kenny took over the Carlisle Grounds hot seat and went into the game unbeaten in nine league games, including a 2-1 victory over Dundalk.
Kenny made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Derry City on Saturday with Tim Clancy, Darragh Noone, and Chris Lyons coming in for Jason Marks, Ger Pender, and Sean Harding.
Early goals have been the catalyst for City to dominate many teams from start to finish at Turner’s Cross this season and City started this one in similar fashion as they took the lead in the 13th minute, when Gearoid Morrissey took Sean Maguire’s neat layoff in his stride before rifling a left footed shot home from the edge of the box.
Four minutes later keeper Peter Cherrie had to be quick off his line to deny Stephen Dooley after a great run from Steven Beattie put the winger through, as City looked to put the game to bed early on.
Republic of Ireland under 21 boss Noel King was in attendance to run the rule over Maguire, Kevin O’Connor, and Bray’s Dylan Connolly, who are all in the squad for the upcoming games against Slovenia and Serbia. King must have been impressed with O’Connor’s pinpoint cross from the left for Gavan Holohan to meet perfectly and head home number two five minutes before the break.
Before that, Mark McNulty was called into action when he made a smart save to palm Mark Salmon’s shot around his post after Tim Clancy had surged forward from deep inside his own half.
The home side always looked in control but were wary of the threat posed by the lightening quick Connolly, who scored twice against Derry at the weekend, but Beattie playing in an unfamiliar right back role kept the former Ipswich man quiet.
Two goals early in the second half saw City make sure of the points in front of the smallest league attendance of the season. First Kenny Browne headed home Dooley’s corner kick for number three in the 54th minute.
Two minutes later Hugh Douglas was adjudged to have brought down Dooley in the box — a harsh decision — and Maguire tucked away the resulting spot-kick.
Caulfield had the luxury of introducing three subs and one of the subs Mark O’Sullivan came closest to number five late on but his header came back off the crossbar.
McNulty; Beattie, Browne (Mulcahy 60), Bennett, O’Connor; Sheppard, G Morrissey (Healy 60), Holahan, Buckley, Dooley; Maguire (O’Sullivan 65).
Cherrie; Douglas, Clancy, Kenna, Lynch (Kehoe 63); Moore, Sullivan, Noone (Marks 84), Salmon, Connolly; Lyons (Pender 63).
T Connolly (Dublin)