St Patrick’s Athletic 0
Waterford FC 2
Waterford FC turned on the style in Richmond Park on Friday night last and two goals scored by Michael O’Connor secured the points which guarantees the club Premier League football next season. Earlier in the campaign the Blues won 3-0 at the same venue so visits to Inchicore, Dublin 8 have proved to be highly enjoyable for the Waterford players and supporters. It was a sweet victory for another reason also. St Patrick’s Athletic prevented Waterford from taking their place in Europe this season when they lodged an objection to UEFA and as a result they took the place of Waterford. This defeat has prevented the Saints from playing in Europe next season, so it was very much as a case of “what goes around comes around”. Manager Alan Reynolds had to make three changes from the team that had lost narrowly to Dundalk in the FAI Cup in their previous game. Rory Feely and Georgie Poynton were suspended and Cory Galvin returned to the subs bench. In came Walter Figueira, Shane Duggan and Maxim Kouogun.
Figueira almost gave the visitors a dream start after just 26 seconds but his powerful shot from just inside the penalty area went over the crossbar.
Zack Elbouzedi forced Murphy into an excellent save on four minutes when the Republic of Ireland Under 21 International got on the end of a Kevin Lynch left-wing cross at the back post, but his well-struck left-footed shot was turned around the posts.Waterford were awarded a penalty by Latvian referee Edgar Malcevs from the resulting corner kick when Rob Slevin was brought down from behind by defender Ciaran Kelly.With Duggan missing the last couple of penalties for Alan Reynolds’ men including the cup defeat to Dundalk, O’Connor assumed responsibility from 12 yards, and he sent Barry Murphy, who was replacing the injured Brendan Clarke, the wrong way to give his side the ideal start.It was all Waterford with O’Connor having a goal-bound effort blocked by a defender minutes later before Lee Desmond came to his sides rescue on nine minutes when he somehow managed to clear a Kevin Lynch effort off the line.
Barry Murphy kept St Pat’s in the game when he made a cracking save as the half-entered injury time. Tom Holland spotted the run of JJ Lunney and he fired in a shot from 25 yards that looked destined for the net, but the netminder made a top save.Jake Walker, who replaced Mikey Drennan at the half time break, had the first chance of the second half on 54 minutes when Conor Clifford intercepted Tom Holland and set up the attacker, but Matt Connor saved.Waterford carved out a great passage of play that nearly extended the lead on 66 minutes when Lunney fed the ball to Shane Duggan, who spotted the run of Sam Bone and after bringing the ball onto his left-foot, his strike was inches wide of the near post.Walter Figueira should have taken full advantage of a mistake in the Pat’s defence two minutes later when he took possession of a loose ball just outside the penalty area, but his attempted chip of the advancing keeper just cleared the crossbar.
The Blues should have put the game to bed with a second goal on 77 minutes when Michael O’Connor blazed wide of an open goal.
O’Connor made amends for that miss when he doubled the lead with a brilliant header four minutes later. Kevin Lynch’s quick thinking from a free kick set up Shane Duggan, who had the vision to spot Sam Bone out on the right and his teasing cross found the head of the front man who powered the ball past Barry Murphy.
Matt Connor made sure of two clean sheets at Richmond Park this season when he produced a quite stunning save in second half injury time when diving full length to tip a cracking effort from Ronan Hale as the Blues fans celebrated another super win on the road.