Waterford Utd 0; Shelbourne 1
In this top of the table clash, Waterford United were hoping to record their first league success over Shelbourne in almost five years but, despite having the best of the exchanges, the Blues succumbed to a late goal from substitute Paddy Madden.
Six minutes from time, Richie Baker rounded Michael Devine but the goalkeeper had narrowed the angle and Kevin Murray got back in time to boot the ball into touch. But, from the throw-in on the right, David Cassidy whipped the ball across the face of the Waterford goal and Madden crashed it to the net from point-blank range.
Following a tentative start by both sides, United had the edge in a first half that saw much hustle and bustle and a lot of stylish close-passing but very little in the way of constructive build-ups in the final third of the pitch.
Waterford manager Stephen Henderson kept faith with the same eleven that defeated Wexford Youths 0-1 the previous week. Shelbourne also had a one goal win against Monaghan United in their last game but Reds boss Dermot Keely opted to replace Madden with Anto Flood while Alan Keely came into the side for the injured Stephen Quigley.
On 22 minutes, Willie John Kiely fired off a snap-shot from close range but his effort lacked power and Dean Delaney saved comfortably. A minute later, Kiely and Delaney were involved in a race for possession inside the area but the goalkeeper got the better of the encounter and cleared the danger.
The Blues came closest to opening their account in the 32nd and 37th minutes. In the first instance, Baker took Gary Dunphy’s blockbuster off the line following a quickly taken short-corner by Kevin Waters.
Then a throw-in by Dunphy, out on the left, found Paul McCarthy and only a top-drawer, full-length save by Delaney prevented the Tramore man’s powerful, 35-yard drive from sailing into the roof of the net. Waters pounced on the loose ball but rushed his effort and ballooned it over the bar.
Shelbourne had a glorious opportunity to take the lead on 44 minutes when Peter Hynes intercepted a cross-field pass from Alan Carey but, with the goal at his mercy, he headed over the bar from eight yards.
Baker came to the rescue of the visitors for a second time ten minutes into the second-half when he booted Waters’ in-swinging corner off the line at the far post. A minute later, Kiely skewed his shot wide of the near post from six yards following a throw-in by Seamus Long that was touched on by McCarthy.
Waterford United: Michael Devine, Alan Carey, Kevin Murray, Graham Cummins, Seamus Long, Kenny Browne, John Kearney, Paul McCarthy (Kieran Fitzgerald, 73 minutes), Gary Dunphy (David Grincell, 66 minutes), Kevin Waters, Willie John Kiely. Substitutes not used: Declan Woodgate, Paul Carey, Kevin Burns.
Shelbourne FC: Dean Delaney, Damien Brennan, David Crawley, Alan Keely, Kevin Doherty, Mark O’Brien, David McAllister, David Cassidy, Peter Hynes (Derek Doyle, 81 minutes), Anthony Flood (Paddy Madden, 69 minutes), Richie Baker. Substitutes not used: Robbie Hedderman, Keith Murray, Vinnie Whelan.
Referee: Padraig Sutton, Clare.