Derry City 2, Bray Wanderers 0
AN Aaron McEneff brace lifted Derry City back into fourth spot in the SSE Airtricity League as the Candystripes saw off a stubborn Bray Wanderers at Brandywell.
The ex-Spurs youth netted his sixth penalty of the campaign to give the home side the lead on 37 minutes and his sweetly struck effort from distance with three minutes to go took his season's tally to 12 goals.
It was a first win in five league matches for Kenny Shiels' men who closed to within three points of third placed Waterford who they meet on Friday night at the RSC.
It was a weakened Derry City side without Scotsmen, Nicky Low and Darren Cole while there was a real lack of experience on the home bench.
Bray, meanwhile, made one change from the team which lost heavily to champions, Cork at Turner's Cross last time out with Darragh Gibbons replacing Conor Kenna.
It was a lacklustre opening to the contest and the first shot arrived on seven minutes when Derry's Jamie McDonagh blasted high and wide with an effort with the outside of his right boot.
Rory Patterson then headed over the crossbar from six yards after Jack Doyle's inviting cross from the left flank on nine minutes.
Bray were gifted a glorious chance 60 seconds later when Daniel Kelly found Ronan Coughlan unmarked at the far post but he headed recklessly over.
The Seagulls struck the post on 22 minutes as they broke down the left wing with Daniel Kelly. City keeper, Gerard Doherty raced out of his penalty area to cut out the danger but misjudged the pace of the ball and Kelly attempted to curl into the empty net only to be denied by the woodwork.
McEneff came close with a rasping drive from 25 yards which had Bray keeper Evan Moran beaten but it bounced a yard wide of the left post on the half hour mark.
Match referee, Tomas Connolly awarded City a spot-kick when McDonagh was challenged from behind by Cory Galvin . Up stepped McEneff who blasted his penalty into the net to hand Derry a timely lead in the game.
Dan McKenna found himself in acres of space just outside the Derry area two minutes before the break but his curling strike went narrowly over the crossbar.
Derry finished the half strongly as Rory Patterson's snapshot was saved by Moran before Curtis, making his 100th club appearance, sent his close range header into the Bray stopper's hands.
Kelly found himself in behind Doyle inside the box 10 minutes after the break and his low strike was spilled by Doherty but the Derry defence managed to clear their lines.
Curtis met McEneff's free-kick on 63 minutes but his header from point blank range was parried behind by Moran.
Doherty tipped Galvin's left footed strike from 16 yards behind for a corner on 79 minutes to maintain his side's slender lead.
McDonagh saw the Bray keeper stray off his line and hit an audacious 40 yard free-kick which looped over the head of Moran and cannoned back off the post with six minutes left on the clock.
McEneff sealed the win with a sweetly struck goal from 20 yards which curled into the bottom corner on 87 minutes as Derry moved three points behind Waterford ahead of Friday night's crunch clash at the RSC.
Derry City: G. Doherty: J. McDonagh, G. Peers, E. Toal, J. Doyle; Ronan Hale (A. Delap 70), C. McDermott (C. Farren 90) R. Curtis; A. McEneff; R. Patterson; Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, D. Kayode, E. Tweed, B. Doherty, N. Logue.
Bray: E. Moran; D. Hayes, D. Gibbons (C. Rogers 90), S. Heaney, K. Lynch; P. O’Conor, D. McKenna; D. Kelly, G. McCabe, C. Galvin; R. Coughlan (G. Pender 82); Subs Not Used - A. Dempsey, H. Douglas, C. Kenna, S. Flynn, A. McGovern.
Referee - Tomas Connolly