Waterford striker Karl Bermingham on the attack against Kildare County at Station Road, Newbridge, last Friday.                                           Photo: Ken Sutton

Waterford striker Karl Bermingham on the attack against Kildare County at Station Road, Newbridge, last Friday. Photo: Ken Sutton

Kildare County 1; Waterford United 2

Gareth Cronin, the Waterford United manager described the penalty award which gave the Blues victory on Friday night last as “wishy washy” and perhaps he was right.

Referee Paul Tuite, who was taking charge of his first League of Ireland game for over a month – having been ‘stood down’ by the powers that be for mistakes he made in a Premier League game in May – pointed to the spot after defender Willie Tyrell put in a challenge of the Waterford striker Karl Bermingham. It did not look a dangerous or indeed a harsh tackle but the official had no doubt that the Kildare player had fouled the Blues No10.

Dave Warren made no mistake from the spot to take all three points from a very entertaining contest which was played on a tight but superb playing surface. Kildare may be struggling somewhat at the wrong end of the table but at times they played some very good football, as indeed did the visitors.

Following the full-time whistle the news came through that Shelbourne had been held to a draw by Sporting Fingal and that result, coupled with Dundalk’s defeat to Limerick the previous evening, meant that Waterford had moved clear in second place, just one point behind Shels who pay a visit to the RSC this Friday.

Attendances at the Waterford venue have been low all season but surely this weekend the crowd will be large to watch a real top-of-the-table clash. A Waterford victory would of course put them top and that has not been the case since the Jimmy McGeough era. Gareth Cronin made the point that this game is going to be a real test for supporters.

“Surely they will come out for the Shelbourne game. I have no doubt that this is the acid test as to whether we want a club in the League of Ireland,” stated the Blues boss.

Over the line?

The Waterford team showed two changes from the team which defeated Dundalk the previous week. Joe Mulcahy was a surprise choice ahead of Gary Dunphy in the middle of the park. Karl Bermingham came back to play up front instead of the suspended Willie John Kiely.

The Blues settled quickly on what was a breezy and showery evening in Kildare and they almost took the lead after only two minutes. Dave Warren got down the left before picking out Vinny Sullivan who played the ball forward to Michael Foley with his back to goal, but he was inches wide with a very clever back-heeled effort from 10 yards.

Kildare County went close on 12 minutes when left full back Barry Clancy went on a charge down the flank before crossing to Cieran Kilduff but the player who had scored a hat-trick against Fannad United in the FAI Cup the previous Tuesday dragged his shot across the goal from the right side of the penalty area.

Ten minutes later the home side went close once again. Cathal Brady, a tricky little performer, went charging into the penalty area before shooting at goal. His effort looked like it was on target but defender Kenny Browne deflected the ball out for what proved to be a fruitless corner kick.

Kildare had their tails up at this stage and 2 minutes later Cathal Brady picked out Philip Gorman from the left but the tall striker headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

Back came Waterford with Bermingham taking a pass from Kevin Waters but his low shot from the edge of the penalty area was saved by goalkeeper Austin O’Neill who somehow got his legs in the way of Bermingham’s low strike.

One minute later Kenny Browne was just wide with a header following a cross from Michael Foley. The big talking point of the first half arrived on 41 minutes. Dave Warren unleashed a rocket of a shot from 35 yards. The ball struck the underside of the crossbar before it was hacked away by defender Paul Donnelly.

A keen photographer who was standing on the endline claimed the ball was well over the line but the lady running the sideline, Aishling Looney, kept her flag down.

Breen header

Needless to say the half-time break was dominated by that decision but it was put to bed three minutes into the second half when Waterford took the lead. Dave Warren took a corner kick from the left which was flicked on by Kevin Waters to David Breen and the classy defender went low to head unmarked to the back of the net from eight yards.

Kildare almost got back on level terms four minutes later/ Barry Slattery met a free kick taken by Colin Fortune from the left. His powerful header beat the Blues goalkeeper Pakie Holden all ends up but the superb Kenny Browne somehow managed to get back in time to head the ball off the line. It was brilliant defending by the sublime Blues No5.

However on 61 minutes Browne had the misfortune to slice the ball into his own net, although no blame whatsoever could be placed on him. Eoin Kavanagh played the ball down the left wing to Cathal Brady who in turn easily beat Kieran Fitzgerald before firing in a low shot which beat Holden and Browne tying to repair the damage kicked the ball over his own goal-line.

Waterford regained the lead seven minutes later through the much-talked-about penalty. Kevin Waters played the ball out wide right to Kieran Fitzgerald and when he placed a cross low into the penalty area, Willie Tyrell tried to take the ball off Karl Bermingham. There was contact of a sorts but Paul Tuite immediately pointed to the spot and Dave Warren drilled the ball low past goalkeeper O’Neill.

The Kildare manager John Ryan brought on three substitutes during the remainder of the game but to no avail. They did go close deep into injury time when Cathal Brady floated over a corner from the left to the far post. Pakie Holden dropped the ball but following a mad scramble inside the six-yard box, David Breen eventually kicked the ball clear and the points were Waterford’s.

Kildare County: Austin O’Neill, Eoin Kavanagh, Barry Clancy, Michael Roche, Paul Donnelly, Willie Tyrell, Barry Slattery, Colin Fortune, Philip Gorman, Cathal Brady, Cieran Kildiff. Subs: Issaka Bara for Roche (75 mins), John Brophy for Donnelly (83 mins), Joe Robinson for Slattery (85 mins).

Waterford United: Pakie Holden, Kieran Fitzgerald, Robbie Clarke, David Breen, Kenny Browne, Dave Warren, Kevin Waters, Joe Mulcahy, Vinny Sullivan, Karl Bermingham, Michael Foley. Subs: Gary Dunphy for Mulcahy (57 mins), David Grincell for Sullivan (79 mins)

Referee. Paul Tuite (Dublin).

*Footnote: The two assistants running the line were Aishling Looney and Hilda McDermott. It’s believed that this was the first time two females ran the line in a League of Ireland game.