Longford Town 0; Waterford United 2
Flancare Park has never really been a happy hunting ground for Waterford United down through the years and the last time a victory was recorded there was back in 2005 when Daryl Murphy scored what proved to be the winning goal.
But on Saturday night last The Blues did the business without ever having to get into top gear. Gareth Cronin’s men were far from impressive during the opening 45 minutes but whatever the manager and his assistant Sean Francis said at half-time certainly worked because it was a completely different Waterford team that came out for the second period and on the turnaround they played Longford off the park.
Having said that the home side never really put United under any real pressure all through the 90 minutes and the visiting goalkeeper Pakie Holden had very little to deal with, apart from clutching a few corner-kicks and a handful of crosses.
The three points gained moved Waterford right on to the heels of Shelbourne and Dundalk ahead of Tuesday’s home game with Athlone Town. With two away games on the trot to follow against Sporting Fingal on Monday, May 26 at the Morton Stadium, followed by a trip to Limerick the following Friday, this was a massive result for The Blues and Cronin said as much afterwards.
“This was a really classy away display by the team. We defended well in the first half but we had a chat at half-time and decided to have a go at them because we knew we were by far the much better team. Vinny and Willie John took their chances superbly. I now want the lads to take all nine points from the next three games ahead of our cup game with Galway United on June 6. This was easily my most comfortable game of the season to date as manager. We were never in any trouble”..
The Waterford team showed two changes from the team which started against Wexford Youths the previous week. Stephen Quigley replaced Kieran Fitzgerald at right full-back and Luke Fitzpatrick came in for Joe Mulcahy on the same side of midfield.
Playing into the Strokestown Road end of Flancare Park in their all-blue strip, Waterford went on the attack for the first time after 6 minutes when Willie John Kiely tried his luck from 30 yards when really he should have passed to Micheal Foley out on the left or to Luke Fitzpatrick on the right as both were unmarked and screaming for the ball.
Three minutes later Vinny Sullivan had a great chance to score when he met a left-wing cross from Michael Foley but he glanced his header wide from six yards with goalkeeper Neale Gallagher out of position. Ten minutes later Michael Foley whipped the ball over from the left to Luke Fitzpatrick who in turn picked out Willie John Kiely from the right but Willie John Kiely hooked the ball over the crossbar from close range.
Longford’s first chance arrived after 20 minutes when Gary Murphy picked out Alan Lynch from the right but the striker headed across goal when really he should have made Pakie Holden work. Lynch headed wide once again 3 minutes later following a decent move involving Luke Hardy and Stephen Rushe.
Waterford flew out of the traps when the second half got underway and they took the lead on 47 minutes. Robbie Clarke played the ball forward to Michael Foley who in turn played the ball high and long into the Longford half of the pitch.
Willie John Kiely timed his run to perfection beat the offside trap before lobbing the ball over the advancing goalkeeper Neal Gallagher.
Six minutes later the game was put out of reach of the Midlanders when Vinny Sullivan scored. Stephen Quigley played the ball forward to Luke Fitzpatrick along the deck and when Sullivan looked up and noticed that Neal Gallagher was off his line he cracked the ball into the far corner of the net from fully 10 yards outside the right edge of the penalty area.
Waterford took over completely after that goal but they could not add to their tally. Karl Bermingham replaced Kiely after 73 minutes but he then had to leave the field with an injury on 85 minutes, with David Grincell getting a run out. Kevin Waters came on for Fitzpatrick after 83 minutes.
Gareth Cronin intends to use all of his squad during the hectic period that is coming up, and this victory in Flancare Park will have given the entire camp a huge boost.
Longford Town: Neal Gallagher, Ryan O’Donnell. Ryan Casey, Ronan Frawley, Stephen Brennan, Luke Hardy, Gary Murphy, Damien Rushe, Alan Lynch, Iarlaith Davoran, Brian Kelly. Subs: Dean Barrett for Kelly (49 mins), Daire Doyle for Lynch (57 mins), Daithi Garry for Rushe (76 mins).
Waterford United: Pakie Holden, Stephen Quigley, Robbie Clarke, David Breen, Kenny Browne, Dave Warren, Paul McCarthy, Luke Fitzpatrick, Vinny Sullivan, Willie John Kiely, Micchael Foley. Subs: Karl Bermingham for Kiely (73 mins), Kevin Waters for Fitzpatrick (83 mins), David Grincell for Bermingham (85 mins)
Referee: Eddie McNally (Cork).