The pressure was ratcheted up on Stephen Bradley’s tenure as Shamrock Rovers head-coach when they became the first side to lose to basement side Bray this season.
In front of a paltry 645 fans at a wet and windy Carlisle Grounds, the 10-man Tallaght side slipped to their fourth loss in five Premier Division games, as Rónán Coughlan’s first goal for the Seasiders ended their record nine-match losing streak.
When front-man Dan Carr saw red with 27 minutes to go, the Hoops never looked like grabbing an equaliser.
After being booed by supporters last Friday after the Dublin derby loss to Bohs, the Rovers faithful again let their feelings be known.
With Wanderers’ manager in-waiting Martin Russell again in the dug-out in an advisory role, caretaker boss Graham Kelly patrolled the touch-line.
The crucial moment arrived when a poor 53rd minute back-pass by away captain Ronan Finn allowed former Huddersfield Town striker Coughlan to get in ahead of Lee Grace and slot low past Kevin Horgan from 12 yards.
Remarkably, it proved 13th time lucky for the Seagulls, who hadn’t won in their previous 12 matches in all competitions in 2018.
Ironically, Bray’s last win was against the Hoops last October in Harry Kenny’s last home game in charge. The former Rovers legend has been speculated as a possible successor to Bradley.
It could have been worse for the visitors on the hour. Sub and ex-Bray player Gary Shaw gave away possession which was capitalised upon by former Hoop Gary McCabe. His stinging 22-yard drive was superbly pushed over, one-handed, by Horgan.
Matters were compounded on 63 minutes when Carr picked up his second yellow when preventing Rhys Gorman taking a free-kick quickly.
Wanderers went with the same starting line-up from their defeat to Dundalk last Friday at the same venue.
The Dubliner’s changed their side beaten by Bohemians at Tallaght, as Sean Kavanagh replaced Luke Byrne at left-back.
With the wind restricting how the game was played, clear-cut chances were few and far between in the opening period.
Aided by the strong breeze, Rovers mustered their first opening on the half hour, but Aaron Dillion pushed away Brandon Miele’s long-range free-kick.
On the stroke of half time, full-back Ethan Boyle headed over off Graham Burke’s corner.
Bray’s cause wasn’t helped by the 26th minute departure of striker Aaron Greene due to injury.
They registered their first clean sheet in an opening 45 minutes since the opening day of the season and the Wicklow outfit also had a penalty shout turned down by referee Tomas Connolly nine minutes before the interval, when skipper McCabe’s shot was charged down by Ally Gilchrist.
Dillon; McKenna, Douglas, Kenna, Lynch; O’Conor, Gorman; Coughlan (Pender 73), McCabe, Galvin (Jake Kelly 88); Greene (Daniel Kelly 26).
Horgan; Boyle, Grace, Gilchrist, Sean Kavanagh (Brandon Kavanagh 73); Coustrain (Shaw 55), Greg Bolger, Finn, Miele; Burke; Carr.
Tomas Connolly (Dublin).
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