Cork City maintain four point lead with win at Bray Wanderers 

Cork maintained their four-point lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League First Division by making it 18 league games unbeaten in their victory over ten-man Bray
Cork City maintain four point lead with win at Bray Wanderers 

HARD TO BEAT: Cork City manager Colin Healy's side are now unbeaten in 18 matches. Pic: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Bray Wanderers 1 Cork City 3 

Cork maintained their four-point lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League First Division by making it 18 league games unbeaten in their victory over ten-man Bray.

The Rebels made it three victories on the bounce as first half goals by Cian Murphy and Jonas Häkkinen were added to by Ruairi Keating after the turnaround to secure all three points at the Carlisle Grounds.

It is now appearing to be a two-horse race for the crown with Galway United beating Waterford 1-0 at Eamonn Deacy Park.

When Cork and Bray met at the Wicklow venue on the opening day of the 2022 season back in February, the Rebels won 6-0 in a game marred by crowd disturbance.

But thankfully this encounter passed off without incident.

With both sides having played last Monday, the visitors retained the same starting 11 who defeated Treaty United 5-0 at the Market’s Field.

Wanderers made one change with defender Kevin Knight replacing forward Kieran Marty Waters.

Before kick-off, the Leesiders had lost just once in 19 games while the Seagulls had won just three times in their last 20 starts.

Yet with the teenage strikers of Darragh Lynch and Ben Feeney leading the leading, the Wicklow outfit went close on after seven minutes when Feeney flashed a low drove narrowly wide.

Home custodian Stephen McGuinness thwarted Keating in the 14th minute before City hit the front seconds later. After good work on the right flank to the end line by Cian Bargary, Murphy was there to apply the finishing touch for his fifth score of the campaign.

In a tight affair after that, Cork doubled their lead in virtually what was the last piece of action of the first period.

Kevin O’Connor swung in a free from the left wing. Keating met it with a sweet volley but McGuinness pulled off a superb save. Defender Häkkinen was first to react to convert the rebound close in.

With scattered rain descending after the interval, McGuinness made a fine leg block to thwart Murphy in the 54th minute.

Yet, Bray hit back on 63. After a corner was cleared, sub Kurtis Byrne flighted in a cross which Lynch rose above his marker to guide in a cracking ten-yard header However, Colin Healy’s charges restored their two-goal cushion in the 71st minute. From Doona’s centre from the left, McGuinness couldn’t gather. And close in, Keating headed into the open goal The hosts had stand-in skipper Conor Clifford sent off with 12 minutes to go in an off the ball altercation with Aaron Bolger who was also booked in the aftermath.

Häkkinen went close to adding a fourth late on with his header off a corner coming back off the post.

Bray Wanderers: McGuinness; Blackbyrne, Kevin Knight (Callaghan 87), Hudson, McManus; Thompson (Labutis 82), Clifford, Massey (Manahan 52), Fox; Lynch, Feeney (Byrne 52).

Cork City: Harrington; Häkkinen, Coleman, O’Connor; Honohan; Doona, Bolger (Hurley 84), Srbely (Healy 64), Bargary (Crowley 84); Murphy, Keating.

Referee: Robert Dowling (Kildare).

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