Jim O’Sullivan

St Saviours’ Aaron O’Neill can’t prevent Southend’s Chris Feehan from getting his pass away. | Photo: Jim O’Sullivan

Southend United 0; St Saviours 1

Games between St Saviours and Southend United usually produce plenty in the way of talking points due to the fact that the two clubs are near neighbours in the Ballybeg area of Waterford City.

From time to time players move from one club to another and as a result the derby games are tasty affairs with plenty of action but that was not the case on Sunday morning last. There was plenty of effort from both sides but little in the way of quality. Perhaps both sets of players were suffering from post-Christmas blues?

It was clear from the outset that it would take a goal from a set piece to decide the issue and that is how matters panned out. On the overall play during the 90 minutes, St Saviours deserved to take the three points which has moved them to within seven points of the leaders Tramore and they have played one game less.

Southend United could have gone into second place had they won but they rarely tested the Saints’ defence and they can very little to complain about. These two sides will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season when they start playing regular football once again.

With cup football and the festive period the order of the day in recent times it will take some outfits time to get back into the full swing of league football once again.

Kennedy header

St Saviours put the home side on the back-foot from the opening whistle and they went close to opening the scoring after 11 minutes. Anthony Jacob played the ball forward from the middle of the park. His pass was flicked on by the head of Billy Barron to Stephen Dalton who in turn cracked in an angled drive from the right but his fine effort went inches wide of the far upright.

One minute later at the other end, Paddy Carey made the Saints’ goalkeeper Graham Cleary from long range. Southend went close themselves on 15 minutes when Chris Feehan ghosted in from the right to meet a left wing cross from Ian Caulfield but he shot wide from a decent position.

What proved to be the winning goal arrived in the 29th minute. Left full-back John Keane moved over to the right flank to take a corner kick. He struck the flag kick brilliantly with power and central defender James Kennedy rose like an eagle to head the ball powerfully to the roof of the net from eight yards.

Kennedy was back in the thick of the action once again just before the half-time whistle. This time he got on to the end of a left-wing corner kick taken by Aaron O’Neill but on this occasion he shot over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.

United changes

Southend tried to push forward during the early stages of the second half but they were not getting space from a very tight St Saviours defence. They took off Ian Caulfield after 55 minutes and brought on Paddy Dooley to play as a striker. Paddy Barrett, the exciting youngster came on to take the place of David Croke on 69 minutes and the two substitutes almost created an equaliser on 75 minutes.

Dooley took a free kick from the right side of the penalty area. Barrett met the cross and his fierce header beat the Saints goalkeeper Graham Cleary but full back Brian Arrigan, a former Southend player was in the right place to chest the ball off the line.

The pressure was on the visitors at that stage but they should have wrapped up the game when one of their substitutes, Joe Twomey was put clear in injury time but he blazed the ball high over the crossbar from close range following good work by Aaron O’Neill.

The full-time whistle blew moments later and it was St Saviours who walked away with the three precious points.

Southend United: Cliff Kearney, Aaron Butler, John Starmer, Lee Russell, Micchael Farrell, Micchael Caulfield, Chris Feehan, Barry Phelan, David Croke, Paddy Carey, Ian Caulfield. Subs: Paddy Dooley for Caulfield (55 mins), Paddy Barrett for Croke (69 mins).

St Saviours: Graham Cleary, Brian Arrigan, John Keane, James Kennedy, Trevor Regan, Anthony Jacob, Phil Penkert, Brian O’Donoghue, Billy Barron, Stephen Dalton, Aaron O’Neill. Subs: Joe Twoomey for Penkert (71 mins), Ned Elliott for Keane (82 mins).

Referee: Noel Purcell.