Niall Newberry reports from Oriel Park
Dundalk ran riot on Friday night as they decimated a depleted Bray Wanderers side 5-0 at Oriel Park to maintain their two-point advantage at the top of the SSE Airtricity League table.
A brace from the league’s top scorer Patrick Hoban along with goals from Dylan Connolly, Jamie McGrath and Marco Tagbajumi saw Dundalk easily win this match, which was somewhat marred by what looked to be an absolutely horrific injury to Bray defender Andrew McGovern late on.
Both sides made just one change from their respective matches on Monday night as Dean Jarvis came in for Dane Massey at left-back for the Lilywhites, while Conor Kenna replaced Darragh Gibbons at centre-half for the Seagulls.
Dundalk started brightly and had chances early on when Daniel Cleary and Jamie McGrath both headed over from Michael Duffy corners.
McGrath then floated in a lovely ball which was headed over the top by Patrick Hoban before some nice play between Duffy, Hoban and McGrath resulted in Robbie Benson blazing over when it looked easier to score.
Bray fashioned a chance of their own when winger Daniel Kelly forced a decent save out of Gary Rogers, but Dundalk would not have to wait long for their goal which would come moments later.
It came after Cleary’s excellent ball from the left was flicked on by Dylan Connolly and into the path of Hoban, who made no mistake to scores his 13th goal of the season in the 13th minute.
The Lilywhites doubled their advantage just two minutes later when Connolly, who has enjoyed a good spell of late, used his skill before rifling home to score against his former employers.
Dundalk almost made it three when Duffy beautifully whizzed past Dylan Hayes on the left flank before squaring it to Hoban, who hit the outside of the post from close range, and the league’s top scorer went close again when he headed wide, this time from a Duffy corner.
The hosts had already killed the game off five minutes before the break when Sean Hoare’s ball from the right found its way to Duffy and his volley was parried by Evan Moran into the path of McGrath, who made no mistake as Dundalk continued to run riot.
Stephen Kenny’s side went in search of more goals in the second period and Soccer Writers’ player of the month Duffy’s curling free-kick was well saved by Moran in the Bray goal just after the restart.
Dundalk got their fourth when Dean Jarvis floated in a pinpoint cross which was met by the head of Hoban, who scored his second of the night before going off to a rapture of applause moments later.
Ronan Murray, who himself was just off the bench, cracked a wonderful free-kick off the crossbar with Moran well beaten before another substitute, Marco Tagbajumi, somehow headed wide from a Chris Shields cross.
Goal number five did come when Jarvis and Duffy combined before the latter crossed for Tagbajumi, who eventually bundled home his second goal in as many matches to complete the rout.
It really should have been six soon afterwards though, when Murray headed over from a Duffy cross before Moran saved well from Duffy who was on the end of a Hoare cross from the right.
Bray’s finished the match with ten players after full-back Andrew McGovern was taken away in an ambulance following what looked to be a horrific collision with teammate Sean Heaney as the team’s injury crisis further intensifies.
Dundalk almost got their sixth goal deep into stoppage time after Murray hit the crossbar before Tagbjumi headed over from the rebound in a match that was really all too easy for the Lilywhites.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Hoare, Brian Gartland, Daniel Cleary, Dean Jarvis; Dylan Connolly, Chris Shields, Robbie Benson (Krisztian Adorjan 46), Michael Duffy; Jamie McGrath (Ronan Murray 62), Patrick Hoban (Marco Tagbajumi 62).
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Stephen Folan, Dane Massey, Karolis Chvedukas.
Booked: Dean Jarvis (43), Krisztian Adorjan (63).
Bray Wanderers: Evan Moran; Dylan Hayes (Dragos Mamaliga 46), Conor Kenna, Sean Heaney, Kevin Lynch; Daniel Kelly, Daniel McKenna, Paul O’Conor, Cory Galvin; Gary McCabe (Andrew McGovern 27), Ronan Coughlan (Ger Pender 82).
Subs not used: Adam Dempsey, Darragh Gibbons, Byron O’Gorman, Cian Walsh.
Booked: Paul O’Conor (46), Conor Kenna (64).
Referee: Robert Harvey
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Patrick Hoban (Dundalk)