Jim OSullivan

Total focus from Waterford United midfielder John Kearney against Athlone last Friday. | Photos: Jim OSullivan

Waterford United 2; Athlone Town 1

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Having lost their two previous league games, Waterford United got back into the winning groove on Friday last but they were far from impressive in doing so. They looked laboured and leg weary for long periods against a team who had a player sent off after 35 minutes. Having said all that a win is a win and United remain hot on the hells of the three clubs above them on the table, Shelbourne, UCD and Sporting Fingal.

Shels are the leaders on a total of 34 points, two more than the Blues. The summer break is now in operation and Waterford’s next game will not be played until Saturday, July 4th away to Longford Town who are now managed by the man Stephen Henderson replaced at the RSC, Gareth Cronin. That could be a very tasty affair.

Penalty opener

Athlone offered very little up front during the course of the game and it came as no surprise that it was the home side who created the few chances that were made.

Alan Carey got in a cross from the right after 21 minutes following good work by Graham Cummins but David Grincell headed over the crossbar. Eight minutes later John Kearny went close with a header after meeting a fine ball from Seamus Long.

The Midlanders were reduced to 10 men when Stephen Place tackled Kenny Browne late, and as he was already on a yellow card referee Graham had no option.

The deadlock was broken just before the half-time whistle. Grincell raced forward to meet a long ball played from the middle of the park and was pulled back by the Athlone defender and captain Des Hope inside the box. Cummins took the penalty kick and sent goalkeeper John McGuinness the wrong way.

Murray sealer

John Kearney was unlucky with a free kick on 57 minutes but two minutes later Kevin Murray did increase Waterford’s advantage. Grincell was fouled on the right side of the park. Kevin Waters took the free kick and central defender Murray headed powerfully to the back of the net.

Grincell, who was in for suspended top-scorer Willie John Kiely, brought a good save from John McGuiness after 88 minutes but it was Athlone Town who scored the game’s third goal four minutes into stoppage time when Kevin Dunne headed home a free kick from the right by Robbie Benson.

Waterford United: Michael Devine, Alan Carey, Seamus Long, Kevin Murray, Kenny Browne, John Kearney, Joe Mulcahy, Paul McCarthy, David Grincell, Kevin Waters, Graham Cummins. Subs: Dave Warren for McCarthy (78 mins), Gary Dunphy for Mulcahy (83) Kieran Fitzgerald for Kearney (86)

Athlone Town: John McGuiness, Robbie Hamm, Brian Cleary, Thomas McGauley, Des Hope, Damien Rushe, Kieran Reilly, Robbie Benson, Stephen Place, Noel McGee, Tom O’Halloran. Subs: Gary Murphy for Reilly (63 mins) Kevin Dunne for McGauley, Kevin Horan for O’Halloran (66).

Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork).