Waterford United 1; Mervue United 0
Waterford United returned to winning ways on Tuesday of last week with a third victory of the season over West of Ireland outfit Mervue United.
David Grincell, who was expected to miss the rest of the run-in after picking up a bad wrist injury against Crumlin United a couple of months back, proved his worth with the only goal three minutes into the second half.
The Blues had taken only one point from their previous three league games – a draw against Finn Harps followed by defeats at the hands of Monaghan United and Limerick – losing vital ground in the race for a play-off place, so nothing less than a win was required on what was a wet and windy night.
Stephen Henderson’s side can now reach a final total of 69 points if they beat Shelbourne, Kildare County and UCD in their last three games. With third-placed Sporting Fingal requiring only one win from their two remaining matches and with Shelbourne and UCD above Waterford, it’s unlikely that the Blues will break into the top three, but football is a funny old game and stranger things have happened.
Burns called in
The game against Mervue United marked the full debut of Kevin Burns. Manager Stephen Henderson decided to give the former Irish Under-18 international some game time as he was due to play against Sligo Rovers in the FAI Cup semi-final due to the fact that Michael Devine was ruled out through suspension.
The young goalkeeper was called into action after only five minutes. Alex Lee fired in a curling effort from the left and Burns did well to turn the ball away with his left hand at the expense of a corner kick.
Vinny Sullivan thought he had opened the scoring after 20 minutes when he cut loose from 20 yards but defender Mark Ludden blocked the goal-bound shot.
Gary Dunphy then tried his luck from 30 yards but Mervue United goalkeeper Eoin Martin got down smartly to smother the ball. Dunphy was back in the thick of the action once again on 37 minutes by unleashing a super effort from 25 yards, but this time defender Eric Browne threw his body in front of the ball to prevent a certain goal.
Waterford were handed a golden chance to take the lead four minutes before half-time. Mervue goalkeeper Martin raced from his penalty area and when he lost his bearings completely, Martin Conneely was forced to tackle Grincell. It looked a harmless enough challenge by the Mervue defender but referee Sean Grant pointed to the spot. Gary Dunphy took the penalty kick but Eoin Martin dived to his left to save.
Despite that miss, the Blues came out attacking brightly in the second period and they broke the deadlock on 48 minutes. Stephen Grant drilled a lovely through ball from the edge of the penalty area to David Grincell and the former Tramore and Waterford Bohemians striker steered the ball past the goalkeeper with his left foot from deep inside the area.
Gary Dunphy met the ball with a delightful half-volley on 71 minutes when Eoin Martin punched a cross from Kevin Waters clear but Dunphy saw his effort go inches wide of the ’keeper’s right upright. Grincell should have scored his second a minute later when he rose to meet a left-wing cross from Vinny Sullivan but he headed wide from a great position.