Sligo Rovers 1 ; Waterford United 2
“Last season Bray stayed up with 17 points but this season you are looking at something like 33 points to avoid relegation which is almost double and that fact shows the difference between last season and this season. When you consider what we have done in the past month we should be pleased to be in the position we are in right now.
“We were dropped in it at the start of the season and to be competing like we are right now says a lot about the players at this club. Perhaps a win and two draws will be enough to keep us up. We have been playing very well during the past month and we were dreadfully unlucky not to take the three points rather than one in Longford the previous Monday.
“Sligo looked sharp during the opening 15 minutes here tonight but then we got on top and we deserved to win. We did give away a terrible goal yet again but the players refused to let their heads go down and we won well at the end. Dave Mulcahy’s winning goal was out of the top drawer, a goal good enough to grace any game. Those players should be proud of what they have done during the past four weeks and we are looking forward to the last three games of the season, beginning with the champions Drogheda United next Friday”.
Those were the after match comments of the Waterford manager Gareth Cronin on Saturday night last at the Showgrounds in Sligo. The victory moved the Blues five points clear of Longford Town and closed the gap on Galway United to just one point.
It certainly promises to be an exciting climax to the season for Waterford United and despite that injury time goal in Longford which gave the home side a point it is still possible for Waterford to avoid relegation and even a play-off, something that did not look possible last month.
Waterford lined out with the eleven that started the second half against Longford in their previous match. Dave Mulcahy began the match on this occasion with Alan Kearney dropping to the subs bench.
Earlier in the season Waterford had won a point in Sligo and they also knocked the local Rovers out of the FAI Cup in a thrilling replay after the teams had drawn at the RSC. It’s a venue that the current crop of Waterford players like and it holds no fears for them.
The home side did look bright and sharp during the opening quarter of an hour in this game with Creataro and Kudozovic playing nice one touch football. Sligo Rovers Australian-born goalkeeper Tomislav Arcabba had very little to do during that period.
However, he was called into action after 16 minutes when Dave Mulcahy controlled the ball on his chest before cutting lose from the edge of the box only for Arcabba to turn the ball away for a corner kick. Sligo put together a good move on 26 minutes with Kudozovic and Matthrew Judge linking up well but John Hayes cut out the danger.
One minute later at the other end Ray Scully got in a cross from the right but Vinny Sullivan and Willie John Kiely just failed to reach Scully’s delivery. Fahrudin Kudozovic was booked for throwing the ball away on 31 minutes after been adjudged to have fouled Dave Mulcahy.
Dave Warren took the free kick and played it to Ray Scilly who crossed from the right and Vinny Sullivan headed the ball superbly past Tomislav Arcabba from inside the penalty area. That goal on 32 minutes gave the Blues great confidence and they could have gone further in front on 38 minutes when Dave Mulcahy split the Rovers defence but on this occasion Sullivan shot over the crossbar from a very good position.
Sligo had a chance after 40 minutes when the ball broke free inside the Waterford penalty area but when it fell to Matthew Judge it appeared to bobble somewhat and Judge lost control and shot wide.
Sligo Rovers did get back on level terms however on 42 minutes. Danny Ventre played the ball forward from the middle of the park and there appeared to be little danger when David Breen attempted to clear but he hesitated and that gave Fahrudin Kudozovic the chance to touch the ball past the stranded Dean Delaney.
This was his 4th goal against Waterford this season. On the stroke of half-time Vinny Sullivan had a shot that looked net bound deflected away by defender Gavin Peers.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half were very sloppy with neither side creating anything of note. That all changed however after 62 minutes when the brilliant Dave Mulcahy scored what proved to be the winning goal.
Vinny Sullivan flicked the ball over the Sligo Rovers defence and coming through like a steam train, Mulcahy allowed the ball bounce one before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Tomislav Arcabba from all of 25 yards. The ball flew into the roof of the net.
Two minutes later Mulcahy was back in the other penalty area, taking the ball off the foot of Conor O’Grady who was getting ready to shoot at goal. Things went from bad to worse for Rovers on 66 minutes when Danny Ventre was sent off for a bad tackle on Willie John Kiely.
Following his dismissal Sligo started to kick long balls forward into the Waterford penalty area and that played right into the hands of both John Hayes and David Breen who had no difficulty whatsoever clearing the long and hopefull balls.
The fight went out of Sligo when Ventre left the pitch and apart from a free kick taken by Conor O’Grady which was headed wide by Rafael Cretaro in the 89th minute they never looked in any real danger.
Now it a visit from the league champions Drogheda United this Friday as relegation and even a play-off can be avoided if the form of the past four weeks continues.
Sligo Rovers: Tomislav Arcabba, Seamus Coleman, Danny Ventre, Keith Foy, Gavin Peers, Adam Hughes, Matthew Judge, Conor O’Grady, Fahrudin Kudozovic, Brian Cash, Rafael Cretaro. Subs.: Jamie McKenezie and Matthew Gordon for Foy and Coleman (58 mins), Stephen Manson for Cash (82 mins).
Waterford United: Dean Delaney, Pat Flynn, Robbie Hedderman, John Hayes, David Breen, Dave Warren, Ray Scully, Paul McCarthy, Vinny Sullivan, Willie John Kiely, Dave Mulcahy. Subs.: David Grincell for Sullivan (70 mins), Alan Kearney for McCarthy (86 mins).
Referee: Dave McKeown (Dublin).