Thursday, 24th May 2018
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Blues stay top following a hard battle in Wexford

Waterford remain on top of the league table following this hard earned win in Wexford on Friday night. This was not a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination but it's results like this that wins league titles and hopefully that will be the case come the end of the current campaign. The one downside was the fact that ace goalscorer Mark O'Sullivan did not appear for the second half after picking up a nasty looking ankle injury just before halftime and eveyone will be hoping he will be fit to line out against Longford Town at the RSC this Friday. UCD remain just one point behind Waterford after they defeated Longford away on Saturday and Cobh Ramblers are just a further point adrift following their win against Cabinteely on Friday.

After a disappointing scoreless first half that saw Mark O'Sullivan leave the fray at the break through injury, the only goal of the tie came five minutes into the second half when Derek Daly beat Corey Chambers with a left-footed strike which proved to be the difference at the final whistle. Following that goal Waterford flooded the midfield area and defended strongly and those tactics proved good enough to take all three points.

Blues coach Alan Reynolds went with an unchanged team that defeated Shelbourne in the league the previous week but on a difficult night on a wet playing surface, it was once again a case of winning ugly in their bid for the league title.

With the opening quarter littered with countless needless free kicks, it was nearly a bizarre own goal that gave the hosts the lead on 20 minutes when Craig McCabe sent in a long throw from the left that saw Blues defender Patrick McClean crash a header off his own post with Matthew Connor beaten.

Wexford FC carved out another chance to go in front on 27 minutes when Ricky Fox found space out on the left-side of the penalty area but his right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area was just inches wide of Connor's far post.

The Blues created their first chance of note four minutes later when Garry Comerford got free out on the left-side of the penalty before putting the ball to the near post for Mark O'Sullivan but his first-time shot was saved by Corey Ramblers.

Derek Daly did have a chance to put his side in front with two minutes remaining in the first half when he got on the end of a left-wing Garry Comerford corner kick but his left-footed effort from inside the penalty area was just wide of the far post.

After the Blues lost striker Mark O'Sullivan through injury during the first half break, Conor Whittle came on in his place and the Waterford native played a crucial part in the breakthrough goal on 50 minutes when he set up Derek Daly, who drilled a left-footed shot from 18 yards past Corey Chambers.

Former Blues underage player Mark Slater did have the ball in the back of the net on 64 minutes when he cut into the penalty area past a couple of tackles but the flag of assistant referee Mark Moynihan was raised as the ball had crossed the endline.

Danny Doyle controlled a ball superbly on the left-side of the penalty area four minutes later but the attacker couldn't direct his shot on target as his effort from 20-yards sailed over the crossbar of Waterford netminder Matthew Connor.

Wexford FC did put the Blues defence under pressure during the final stages of the game in a hope of grabbing an equalising goal but the table toppers held out resolutely to pick up another massive three points to remain top of the pile.

Wexford FC: Corey Chambers, Craig McCabe, Ricky Fox, Ross Kenny, Owen McCormack, Shane Dunne, Eoin Porter, Thomas Croke (Andrew O'Connor `84), Lee Duffy, Danny Doyle (Liam Donnelly `74), Mark Slater

Waterford FC. Matthew Connor, Robin Dempsey, Patrick McClean, David Mulcahy, Derek Daly, Kenny McEvoy, Garry Comerford, Anthony McAlavey, Shane O'Connor (Jack Lynch `72), Mark O'Sullivan (Conor Whittle `46), David McDaid

Referee: Tom Dempsey (Dublin)


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