Shamrock Rovers 1 Bray Wanderers 0: A terrific late free kick from Brandon Miele gave Shamrock Rovers a laboured, but most welcome, first win in five games.
Defeat was harsh on Bray who frustrated their hosts for most of the game at Tallaght Stadium until the redeeming moment of a dour encounter arrived on 88 minutes.
Midfielder Miele, upended on the edge of the area by Bray defender Niall Cooney, stepped up to blast the resulting direct free kick through the wall to the net.
The win moves Rovers five points ahead of St Patrick’s Athletic in the race for a coveted third place which guarantees Europa League qualification.
A poor crowd made for a muted atmosphere as Rovers struggled to impose themselves on a well-organised Bray side.
And it was Mick Cooke’s visitors who threatened first when their captain David Cassidy’s dangerous cross forced the first corner of the game off Conor Kenna.
It took a sluggish Rovers 23 minutes to pose any real menace with Bray left-back Michael Barker snuffing out the threat of Mikey Drennan as he tried to latch onto Damien Duff’s through ball.
Rovers’ first real shot in anger arrived a minute later when Miele was off target from distance.
Indeed, Bray had the only shot on target during a decidedly poor first half.
Thankfully, there was a little more impetus to the game on the resumption.
Rovers’ keeper Murphy made a comfortable save from Adam Hanlon’s weak shot before Drennan ran through to bring a more telling stop from Peter Cherrie at the other end on 52 minutes.
Cherrie was stretched further just past the hour as he got a vital touch to tip over a Gavin Brennan effort.
Bray remained well in the game, though, and carved perhaps their best opening on 70 minutes. Cassidy found himself in space on the right to put over a low cross to the near post which Ryan McEvoy, at a stretch, toed narrowly wide.
Murphy; Madden, Kenna, Blanchard, D. O’Connor; G. Brennan, McCabe (R. Brennan , 90), McPhail (Cregg, 72), Miele; Duff (North, 67); Drennan.
Cherrie; Douglas, Cooney, McNally Barker; Cassidy, Kelly, Sullivan, McEvoy, Hanlon (Wixted, 83); Lyons (Scully, 80).
Paul Tuite (Dublin).
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