On a night of torrential rain and strong winds this clash at the seaside never looked like being an appealing game of football to watch. On a saturated pitch which allowed for little football to be played, form side Bray Wanderers hosted title hopefuls Derry City in the Carlisle Grounds.
Derry started the game and immediately set out to all watching that they would not be attempting to play the ball around too much as they shot straight from kick off. Derry dominated the early parts of the game squeezing a penalty appeal and the opening goal of the game into the first fifteen minutes of action. The opening goal came as Rory Patterson flicked the ball across the box for Patrick McEleney to divert the ball home past Darren Quigley in the Bray goal. The game was providing no real entertainment and the highlight thus far proved to be three brave Derry fans leaving the enclosed stand to support their team from beneath the lashings of rain and gusts of wind on the opposite side of the pitch. This was a move which brought a smile to the faces of most and was met by applause from the vast majority of the Carlisle.
Bray then began to get the ball under control for the first real time in the game with twenty-five minutes on the clock. Kieran 'Marty' Waters attempted to feed Jason Byrne through but the conditions meant the ball skidded through kindly to the hands of Ger Doherty in the Candystripes' goal. Moments later a long ball was nicely touched on by Bray youngster Ismahil Akinade and Gary Dempsey drove forward past two City players before releasing the ball to Jason Byrne whose effort was tame and straight at Doherty.
As Bray found their stride Derry broke down and looked certain to make it 2-0 but for a superb last ditch tackle from Conor Earley to set up a Bray attack. Waters ran at the Derry defence before being brought down on the edge of the box. Dave Webster powerfully drove the ball at goal and were it not for a wonderful save from Doherty the score would have been level once more. The save was so good it even prompted Jason Byrne to go and shake the hand of the Derry keeper. The scores were level from the resulting corner, however. The man affectionately known as 'Izzy' by Seagulls' supporters found himself free in the box and looped his header inside the far post to draw Bray level on thirty-five minutes before making full use of the conditions in his celebration.
Bray went on to dominate the next ten minutes of play. Time and time again the ball was lofted into the Derry box where each time it was rather easily headed away.
Just as the fourth official indicated how long would be added on to the end of the half Quigley brilliantly parried away a speculative drive from Kevin Deery. It wasn't long before Quigley was beaten for the second time. On forty-seven minutes Rory Patterson glanced a Barry McNamee cross past the Bray shot stopper to restore his sides lead right on half time.
As the second half began, Bray had the wind behind them and it didn't take long for them to cause Derry a problem or two. Gary Dempsey found himself bearing down on Doherty's goal only to go down under a challenge but Bray's rather tame penalty shouts were turned down by referee Paul Tuite. Tuite was once again the centre of attention moments later when Marty Waters crossed was caught by the wind and dipped down, bouncing out off the crossbar before Ger Doherty picked up what appeared to be a back-pass from one of his defenders but the referee stood firm and turned down the appeals.
Bray soon found themselves with a mountain to climb as Paddy Kavanagh lost his man from a throw in and was allowed the space to easily roll the ball into the six-yard-box where Rory Patterson tapped home to double his tally and City's lead.
Bray did not give up, however and a long ball to Byrne cause confusion in the Derry defence and led to a corner which came to nothing. The warning signs were there. Shortly after Waters found himself to the left of the box, cutting in onto his weaker right foot his shot was blocked wide for another Seagulls corner. This time the end result was a goal. Dean Zambra's initial cross was blocked, but rebounded to him providing him with a second opportunity which he took full advantage of. His cross was met by the head of Patterson who put the ball into his own goal to give Bray a lifeline.
Shane O'Connor found himself lucky to remain on the pitch for the second time in the game following an off the ball incident with Patterson in which he appeared to kick out at the Candystripes' forward. Luckily this incident was not spotted by the referee. Earlier on in the game O'Connor appeared to have swung an arm at a Derry player. The second of these incidents resulted in O'Connor escaping any cards while Patterson picked up a booking for descent.
From here on in Bray will rightly feel they should have earned at least a point from the game. Firstly, Gary Dempsey broke the offside trap before trying to lift the ball over the onrushing Doherty only for his effort to go wide. Then came the best chance, and most surprising miss of the game. A long hopeful ball into the Derry box found Jason Byrne six yards out, completely unmarked. The veteran striker somehow managed the fluff his connection and the ball went wide. Byrne's reaction said it all as he stood with his head in his hands. Jason Byrne was once again involved as he beautifully beat two Derry players at once on the right wing before firing an extremely optimistic shot from range which never came close to troubling Doherty.
After this the game kind of just fizzled out with the only real chance falling to the head of Barry McNamee who should have killed the game but headed wide from right in front of Quigley's goal.
Derry held on to claim all three points and the celebrations of City boss Declan Devine showed that they had escaped with a lucky three points on the night. An important win for Derry, but an unfortunate and undeserved defeat for Bray.