Tuesday, 17th July 2018
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Waterford FC 3 - Athlone Town 1

After ten years of striving to get out of the First Division the long wait would appear to be coming to an end following this result at the RSC on Friday night.

Waterford FC followed up their thrilling win against Cobh Ramblers at the same venue the previous Friday by defeating an Athlone side who set their stall out to make life difficult for the Blues by playing two banks of four and deploying two wide players. The last time the two sides met, Waterford won 6-1 and the Athlone manager Roddy Collins, who of course in charge of the Blues last season had no intention of being on the receiving end of another hammering on this occasion. Derek Daly scored a wonder goal for the home side just after the half hour mark and it could not have come at a better time because after Davy McDaid had put the home side in front after ten minutes the midlanders equalised shortly afterwards so Daly's super goal settled the nerves of the players and the crowd of over 1,5000 and then Dean Walsh, who was only on the field for five minutes wrapped up the three points in the second half. Waterford still hold a nine point lead over second placed Cobh Ramblers and with only six league games left to play the football lovers of Waterford are gearing up for a massive promotion party very shortly.

After John Martin had a goal harshly ruled out for offside on six minutes when he powered a header past Igor Labuts, the home side did strike for the lead goal four minutes later when Labuts came out to clear a long ball played forward by Kenny Browne but he lost his bearings completely and David McDaid found the net with a 30-yard lob into an unguarded net.

Athlone were back on level terms on three minutes later to shock the home crowd when Ethan Keogh got free down the right channel before crossing to the back post where Dragos Sfrijan was on hand to hammer the ball to the net from close-range.

It was Igor Labuts that produced a fine save to deny the home side regaining the lead five minutes later when a brilliant through ball from Patrick McClean picked out the run of McDaid but his shot was kept out before Derek Daly's delivery from the left soon afterwards was nearly turned into his own net by Stephen Walsh.

The visitors could have got their noses in front on 29 minutes when Sfrijan whipped in a cross from the left that wasn't held by Matthew Connor and when the ball broke to Sean McGrane, the netminder redeemed himself to divert the ball out for a fruitless corner kick.

Waterford regained the lead with a contender for goal of the season on 36 minutes when Derek Daly took a simple pass from Shane O'Connor on the right-side of the penalty area and from 25-yards, his magnificent left-footed strike gave keeper Labuts no chance whatsoever. The ball flew into the roof of the net and the large crowd stood and applauded the extraordinary goal.

After Daly had another effort ruled out for offside three minutes in what was another tight call from assistant referee Adam Tszample, it was Enda Curran that went close to levelling at the other end on the stroke of half time but his first effort was blocked by Patrick McClean before his second effort deflected out for a flag kick.

With the home side making a couple of early changes in the second half, it was Dean Walsh that netted just five minutes after replacing David McDaid on 67 minutes when he headed home from close range after Kenny Browne was denied by goalkeeper Labuts following a Paul Keegan left-wing corner kick.

Anthony McAlavey missed a great chance to extend the Blues lead after 78 minutes when he got his head on the end of another left-wing delivery from man of the match Derek Daly at the back post but his effort at the back post went wide.

Stephen Walsh had a chance to pull a goal back from a deflected free kick four minutes from time but the ball went wide before Rob Spelman got his head on the end of the resulting Jason Lyons corner kick however he couldn't direct his header on target.

Waterford FC. Matthew Connor, Conor Whittle, Kenny Browne, Patrick McClean, Sean Heaney, Paul Keegan, Shane O'Connor (Anthony McAlavey `58), Garry Comerford, Derek Daly, John Martin (Dean O'Halloran `85), David McDaid (Dean Walsh `62)

Athlone Town. Igor Labuts, Ian Fletcher, Stephen Walsh, Cormac Raftery, Liam McCartan, Sean McGrane, Rob Spelman, Ethan Keogh (Claudio Silva `68), Enda Curran, Jason Lyons, Dragos Sfrijan

Referee: Eoghan O'Shea. Assistants Adam Tszample and Alan Dunne.

Photos: Noel Browne


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