Waterford United 2; Kildare County 0
An in-form Waterford United kept up the pressure on leaders UCD by virtue of this emphatic victory over Kildare County at the RSC on Saturday night last, the Blues’ seventh league win in succession.
UCD retained their top position by defeating Athlone Town 1-0 which gives an increased edge to next Friday’s meeting of the Blues and Students at Belfield where victory would leapfrog United into the No 1 position.
United dominated the game from start to finish and, apart from a couple of individual sparks of resistance, the bottom of the table visitors never looked like seriously troubling the home side who played before a sparse attendance of 351 loyal fans.
Kildare County have by far the most fragile defence in the league but they defended courageously and, even though the Blues had a hatful of opportunities to open their account, they had to wait until the second half before they registered their first score through Kevin Waters.
The Blues had Kildare under pressure from the outset and might well have scored as early as the fourth minute. John Kearney lofted a long, high ball from midfield to Willie John Kiely and, on the volley, he skilfully lobbed the ball over the advancing goalkeeper but his effort trickled agonisingly wide of the upright.
Save of the night
There followed near misses from Paul McCarthy and Waters before John Flynn brought off the save of the night on 22 minutes to deny Kevin Murray from a Waters’ corner. Kiely rounded the goalkeeper on the half hour but Dean Lawrence got back to turn the ball out for a corner and Graham Cummins shaved the top side of the crossbar from the resultant kick. Joe Mulcahy and Cummins both went close before the half-time whistle offered County some welcome respite.
After the restart, Kearney and Kiely went close to scoring before the breakthrough was finally achieved when Mulcahy provided a super cross from the right for Waters who arrived into the area like a train and, without breaking his stride, steered an unstoppable header into the net giving substitute goalkeeper Kevin McDonnell no chance.
Kiely should have scored shortly afterwards but his shot from twelve yards lacked venom. However, the insurance goal was secured on 66 minutes when Kenny Browne rose above everybody else in the penalty area to head home a Waters’ corner from the left.
The points were already in the bag but, deep into injury time, Gary Dunphy could have scored a third goal to bolster his side’s overall goal difference but he shot straight into the arms of the goalkeeper from point blank range.
Waterford United: Michael Devine, AlanCarey, Kevin Murray, Kenny Browne, Seamus Long, John Kearney (Gary Dunphy, 79 minutes), Paul McCarthy (Kieran Fitzgerald, 31), Joe Mulcahy, Kevin Waters, Willie John Kiely (David Grincell, 76), Graham Cummins. Substitutes not used: Declan Woodgate, Kevin Burns.
Kildare County: John Flynn (Kevin McDonnell, half-time), Daithi Garry (Matt Byrne, 68 minutes), Paul Mooney, Dean Lawrence, Colm Osbourne, Colm Murray, Gavin Kinsella (David O’Riordan, 91), Craig Purcell, Alan Lynch, Cathal Brady, Orrin Farrell. Substitutes not used, Eoin Kavanagh, Matt Murnaghan.
Referee: Sean Grant, Wexford.