Waterford Crystal 2
The glorious weather which graced Connors Park on Sunday morning certainly helped Villa because they played some sparkling football against the champions Waterford Crystal and fully deserved their haul of three points and they have now gone joint top with Tramore at the summit of the league table. They took an early lead but were pulled back to level pegging right on the blow of half time but they fought back and grabbed a second half winner courtesy of central defender Ian Sullivan. In fairness to Crystal they fought manfully to the bitter end but they lacked the class on the day to take a point from what was a hard fought contest all through.
Crystal opened up brightly enough and after 3 minutes Jimmy Barden crossed to Robbie Butler from the left. Butler headed the ball down to Keith Sheridan but he was just off target with a low left footed strike. Robbie Butler then played the ball out right to Joe Watson who cut into the penalty area but his low shot to the near post was smothered by the Villa goalkeeper Robert Bresnan. Villa opened the scoring in brilliant fashion after 11 minutes. Left full back Ian Nagle picked out Conor McDonald with a throw-in. McDonald controlled the ball on his chest before turning and lobbing a delightful ball over the Crystal goalkeeper Derek Hearne from 14 yards. One minute later McDonald brought a top drawer save from Hearne with a shot on the run from 25 yards.
The same player had another chance after 17 minutes when he raced forward to meet a long ball from Ian Nagle but he lost control of the ball inside the penalty area and defender Paul Wyse cleared the danger. Crystal had a half chance on 29 minutes when Morgan Pender took a good pass from Joe Watson but the former Bohemians player shot straight at Robert Bresnan despite being unmarked from a decent position. It looked as if the Villa would go in at half time leading but they conceded a goal right on the blow of half time. Keith Sheridan whipped in a free kick from the left. Mitchel Casey rose high to head the ball on to Martin Tynan and he cracked the ball to the roof of the net from inside a crowded six yards box.
The Villa team looked really sharp when they came out for the second period despite being caught with that goal just before the break and they began to put the Crystal team on the back foot. Nicky Corcoran had a shot kicked off the line by the Crystal defender Paul Wyse on 53 minutes following good work by right winger Ross Douglas. What proved to be the winning goal came on 57 minutes. Kevin O’Brien, the former Blues player who had replaced the injured Ian Cantwell midway through the first half sent over an inch perfect corner kick from the left to the unmarked Ian Sullivan and he gave Derek Hearne no chance with a bullet header from 8 yards.
The Crystal players did their level best to try and get back into the game for a second time but the majority of their efforts were aerial attacks and the home defenders such as Declan Furlong, Ian Sullivan and Ian Nagle had no difficulty dealing with the high balls which came their way. A set back then for the champions but a really big morale boost for Villa.
Villa: Robert Bresnan, Des Mullett, Ian Nagle, Declan Furlong, Ian Sullivan, Nicky Corcoran, Ian Cantwell, Paul Omotoso, Gerry Connors, Conor McDonald, Ross Douglas.
Subs: Kevin O’Brien for Cantwell (22 mins) Danny Walsh for McDonald (80 mins) Jimmy Barry for Douglas (86 mins).
Waterford Crystal: Derek Hearne, Gavin Roche, Jimmy Barden, Mitchel Casey, Martin Tynan, Robbie Butler, Paul Wyse, Keith Sheridan, Morgan Pender, Joe Watson, Paul Quilty.
Sub: Jason Halloran for Pender (84 mins).
Referee: Jimmy McGrath.