Waterford FC 1 Shamrock Rovers 3
Waterford’s failure to deal with set-pieces cost them dearly at the RSC on Friday night in front of an attendance of almost 3000.
They were undone by a corner-kick and a free-kick within the space of six second half minutes and coupled with Finn Harps 1-1 draw with Derry City, the Blues are now back in the play-off position with just two games left to play.
Manager Marc Bircham admitted after the game that he was disgusted with the way his players performed on the night.
He read the riot act to them after the match and it would be fair to say there were fireworks both on and off the field.
The game had to be halted after 16 minutes when some travelling Shamrock Rovers supporters threw fireworks onto the field, hitting Waterford’s Anthony Wordsworth in the face. Thankfully he was able to return to action when the teams came back following a ten minute stay in their respective dressing rooms.
Bircham made four changes from the team which drew with Derry City the previous Tuesday. In came Brian Murphy, Eddie Nolan, Isaac Tshipamba and Shane Griffin. Out went Paul Martin, Kyle Ferguson, Junior Quitirna and Ronaldo Green.
Waterford shocked the champions when striking the front on 12 minutes. Jack Stafford sent in a cross that wasn’t dealt with by either defender Lee Grace or keeper Leon Pohls, and John Martin took full advantage to finish to the net for his 10th league goal of the season from 12 yards.
The game burst into chaos four minutes later when a number of Rovers fans, who were later removed from the ground by Gardai, launched fireworks onto the playing area hitting Wordsworth, resulting in referee Rob Hennessy taking both teams off the field for ten minutes.
Blues keeper Brian Murphy did well to keep his side in front a minute into first half added time when Sean Gannon’s right-wing cross was cleared by defender Greg Halford into the path of Graham Burke, but the netminder got down well to turn his shot from 20 yards around the left-hand post.
Greg Halford’s long throw in front of a vocal home crowd in front of the Old Stand on 51 minutes found the head of defender Eddie Nolan, but his flicked header was wide of the far post, before Isaac Tshipamba got free down the right-side a minute later only for his low shot to be saved by keeper Leon Pohls.
Anthony Wordsworth tried his luck with an effort from distance on 57 minutes, but his shot went wide of Leon Pohls’ goal, before Eddie Nolan got in a timely intervention at the other end seconds later to block out the dangerous Aaron Greene.
Dylan Watts released Aaron Greene down the right channel on 67 minutes, and after cutting into the area, he was forced wide by Halford, before firing an angled shot from the right-side of the penalty saved by keeper Murphy, but the game changed completely in a six-minute spell.
Shamrock Rovers Dylan Watts gets to grips with Waterford FC’s Jack Stafford. Photos: Noel Browne
The champions drew level on 70 minutes when Watts sent over a left-wing corner deep into a crowded penalty area, and Danny Mandroiu took advantage of a slip in the Blues defence to get in front of his marker to plant a header to the net past a helpless Brian Murphy.
Six minutes later Rovers were in front when the Blues conceded a free kick that saw Watts put in another perfect delivery into the penalty area, and Sean Hoare got to the ball ahead of Brian Murphy and headed to the net.
Junior Quitirna did his best to try bring the shell shocked hosts level ten minutes from time when he twisted and turned on the right-side of the area before firing straight at keeper Pohls, before Mandroiu sealed the deal for Rovers in injury time when he calmly slotted past Murphy after racing onto a wonderful Watts through ball.
Waterford FC: Brian Murphy, Cameron Evans, Greg Halford, Eddie Nolan, Jack Stafford, Anthony Wordsworth, Niall O’Keeffe, Shane Griffin (Darragh Power ’75), John Martin, Isaac Tshipamba (Junior Quitirna ’56), Phoenix Patterson.
Shamrock Rovers: Leon Pohls, Sean Hoare, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace (Max Murphy ’60), Sean Gannon, Dylan Watts, Gary O’Neill, Neil Farrugia (Kieran Cruise ’89), Graham Burke (Zayd Abada ’86), Aaron Greene, Danny Mandroiu.
Referee: Rob Hennessy (Clare), Assistants Allen Lynch and Emmett Dynan