The half-time scoreline was highly flattering to the home side, who scarcely deserved their 3-1 lead.
The Hoops had opened the scoring ten minutes after a delayed kick-off, Darren Meenan firing home from close range, and the Seagulls were slow to recover their composure.
But as the interval loomed, Wanderers pressed in search of an equaliser, and Gary McCabe headed home from a neat Keith Buckley cross.
So far, so good, the Bray support might have thought, but the real drama was yet to come.
First Dylan Connolly lofted past Rovers keeper Tomer Chencinski to put the home side ahead in time added.
Then Referee Anthony Buttimer awarded a penalty against the goalminder, who was thought to have fouled Ryan Brennan in the process of claiming a long ball fed forward by Tim Clancy, and McCabe sent the hapless Chencinski the wrong way from the spot.
The visitors never really recovered and were on the back foot for most of the second period.
A rare Jason Marks goal put the Seagulls further ahead just before the hour, and though Rovers substitute Michael O'Connor got his marching orders within ten minutes of his introduction, fellow sub James Doona made the scoreline a little more respectable for the Hoops, who hadn't previously lost to their hosts for just under six years.
The omens weren't particularly promising when Connolly's opening gambit, a promising-looking surge up the left, came to a premature end as the Bray winger lost his footing.
Six minutes into what was not looking like a vintage game, former Bray man Gary Shaw, playing as a sole striker, raced last Derek Foran in pursuit of a Ronan Finn cross, and it took a determined effort by Buckley to prevent him reaching it.
Long balls were seen out safely by both defences before Brandon Miele made a good run against the right side of the home side's defence, feeding Graham Burke deep in Bray territory.
The midfielder fired in a cross which Keenan had no difficulty in putting away from close range.
In an instant response, the Seagulls crowded Rovers' final third, but thought the ball pinged from one Bray foot to another, no-one got a clear shot until McCabe fired wide from 20m after his own free had returned from the wall.
Shaw, looking bigger and faster than before, was the most consistent threat to the Bray goal, getting inside Buckley for another Burke ball twenty minutes in but firing left of target.
On the half hour, the home side should have levelled matters when Chencinski dropped Aaron Greene's shot, but Ryan Brennan's gimme came back off the post.
And as the Seagulls continued to press, Foran put the ball into the right hand of the area where Brennan sent it towards the far side with the back of his head, but there was no-one there and it flew harmlessly wide.
Soon thereafter Connolly was felled, the foul earning Roberto Lopes a caution and the argy-bargy getting Greene in the book, too. But Mark Salmon sent the free high and wide.
As the break headed, the Bray stack looked a little spent, but suddenly an interchange between Brennan and Buckley allowed the latter to put a cross in the direction of McCabe, who headed firmly past the Rovers' keeper.
In the final minute of regulation time, Shaw should have put the visitors ahead again when Dave Webster flicked Keenan's corner on to him, but his header was inches too high.
The Hoops will wish to forget the time added by Buttimer on this occasion, two minutes which stretched to four and saw them fall dramatically in arrears.
Salmon sent a long ball to Greene, who crossed behind the defence where Connolly race in to volley home with a lofted shot.
Then a long ball from Clancy was chased by Brennan towards the keeper, who tried to turn it into the area where he could claim, but lost control and seemed to impede the Bray man when he in turn tried to gain possession.
But though the Referee immediately pointed to the spot and almost simultaneously reached for his yellow card, Brennan may have deserved it more than Chencinski, as he made contact with the Canadian.
McCabe sent the keeper the wrong way, and the scoreline tilted heavily in Bray's direction.
The second half started in subdued fashion, though Meenan saw yellow for animpassiond protest at the award of a throw to Bray (not the only such decision that went the wrong direction).
Clancy sent a few from half way towards the corner for Brennan, but he couldn't keep it in play.
Then just short of the hour mark following a Greene flag-kick Marks drew back and fired for goal, a deflection on Simon Madden ensuring it flew beyond the reach of the keeper.
Within a minute, the Seagulls were close to a further score, McCabe finding Connolly and the latter crossing for Greene, who couldn't reach the ball.
A series of five corners to the home side in the space of three minutes ended when McCabe uncharacteristically sent his second dead-ball straight into the side netting.
Midway through the period, Greene raced forward and was all but brought down by a brace of defenders but recovered to shoot at pace, just too high to trouble Chencinski.
Things got a little heated in the late stages of the game, McCabe going in Buttimer's book after a little disagreement that saw Trevor Clarke limping heavily, though he seemed a lot better later.
With less than ten minutes left, O'Connor's interference with Connolly was enough for the Referee to produce a straight red card and reduce to vanishing Rovers' slim chance of restoring equality, let alone winning the match.
Despite the visiting fans' normal vehemence being in full voice, they generously applauded former Hoop McCabe as he was substituted with five minutes to go.
And two minutes later, Doona created a solo score when he picked up possession in the Rovers half and made his way forward, toying with the Bray defence before unleashing a firm shot to the far corner.
There was little real chance of a Hoops comeback, however. Indeed, if anything the home side were the stronger in the closing minutes, a shot from sub Jamie Aherne that looked to be sliding just wide of his post fumbled out by the keeper at the cost of a corner.
And there was a last opportunity at the other end when a good run in time added was frustrated by a scarcely earned free out.
Mícheál Ó hUanacháin
Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie; 6 Keith Buckley, 5 Derek Foran, 21 Tim Clancy (c), 23 Jason Marks ; 8 Mark Salmon, 3 John Sullivan; 7 Ryan Brennan, 11 Gary McCabe , 16 Dylan Connolly ; 9 Aaron Greene