The Midlanders have been the Blues’ bogey team in recent years and the hex they hold over United was invoked one more time because, under pressure for most of the night, they ended up snatching a scarcely deserved draw from the penalty spot.
Blues manager Gareth Cronin, who gave five players their league debut in the victory over Wexford Youths the previous week, made three changes to the starting line-up. Club captain John Hayes was suspended while Stephen Quigley and Michael Foley returned to the bench with Robbie Clarke, Kenny Browne and Vinnie Sullivan starting in their place.
The Blues opened the scoring eight minutes into the second half. Foley crossed from the right wing to Paul McCarthy who laid the ball into the path of Warren and he skilfully jinked his way past two tackles in the area before steering a low, hard shot past goalkeeper Shay Kelly.
Seven minutes later, United almost increased their lead but Damien Rushe was in just the right position to take a Luke Fitzpatrick header off the line from a Foley corner from the right.
In what many considered a rather harsh decision by referee Sean Grant in the 88th. minute, defender David Breen was judged to have handled the ball in the area from a corner by Ryan Casey. Substitute Keith Kelch held his nerve and made no mistake with a clinical, fierce drive that gave Packie Holden little chance even though the diving goalkeeper almost got a touch on the ball.
Longford went closest to scoring in a patchy but evenly contested first half when Iarfhlaith Davoren crossed from the right on 27 minutes and both Damien Rushe and the visitors’ previous week’s hat-trick hero, Darren McKenna, failed to find the net from close range in front of goal. It was a real let-off for Waterford.
Three minutes later, the always dangerous McCarthy headed the ball down into the path of Sullivan who flicked it on to Karl Bermingham but his overhead kick lacked power and Kelly gathered safely on the line.
The first half ended with the Blues clearly on top and, in the last minute, they almost snatched the lead but Sullivan’s looping header went narrowly wide from six yards.
Waterford United: Packie Holden, Kieran Fitzgerald, Robbie Clarke, David Breen, Kenny Browne, Luke Fitzpatrick, Dave Warren, Paul McCarthy, Vinnie Sullivan (Willie John Kiely, 78 minutes), Karl Bermingham (David Grincell, 61 minutes), Kevin Waters (Foley, 50 minutes). Substitutes not used: Stephen Quigley, Gary Dunphy.
Longford Town: Shay Kelly, Ryan O’Donnell, Ryan Casey, Ronan Frawley, Colin Murray (Dean Barrett, 78 minutes), Luke Hardy, Alan Lynch (Brian Kelly, 78 minutes), Daire Doyle (Keith Kelch, 65 minutes), Darren McKenna, Damien Rushe, Iarfhlaith Davoren. Referee: Sean Grant Wexford