Andrew Dempsey reports from the Carlisle Grounds
Waterford secured their passage to the semi-final of the EA Sports Cup with a deserved one goal win over First Division Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds.
Scott Twine’s exceptional free-kick after a quarter of an hour proved decisive as manager Alan Reynold’s was forced to watch on from the stands due to suspension.
Gary Cronin made five changes from his sides’ most recent win over Wexford – their third in a row – with Hugh Douglas, Darragh Gibbons, Joe Doyle, Dylan McGlade, Luka Lovic and Brandon McCann all coming into the starting eleven.
Blues boss Reynolds decided to make four changes, one enforced in Zack Elbouzedi, after Waterford’s first win in three over basement battlers UCD on Friday evening at the RSC. That result sent them seventh, just seven points behind Bohemians in third.
Cory Galvin went close after just ten minutes when he saw his shot hit the side-netting after being fed in by Ishmahil Akinade.
Waterford started the better of the two sides and found themselves ahead after a quarter of an hour thanks to a superb Scott Twine free kick.
Twine saw his set-piece curl into the top corner of the net after Akinade was taken down outside the area.
Galvin was one that certainly caught the eye early on, forcing two good saves from the Bray ‘keeper Gabriel Sava who was well able to deal with the ex-Bray midfielder’s efforts on goal.
The Seagulls reacted well to going a goal behind and impressed throughout the majority of the half with Dylan McGlade taking up some good positions in the middle of the park.
The ex-Longford Town winger tested Matthew Connor on two occasions with long-range efforts.
Joe Doyle also went close as the half progressed but he got the ball stuck underneath his feet as the chance escaped him with Waterford defender Maxi Kouogun marshalling the former Cabinteely forward well.
Darragh Gibbons also provided a threat from set-piece scenarios, getting on the end of two Dylan Barnett deliveries but Connor was more than equal to the danger posed as the Blues went in at the break one clear.
It was a slow start to the second period, but it soon ignited into life just before the hour mark. Luke Nolan, who was impressing on the right flank, fed in Doyle after a quick free-kick but the 21-year-old was desperately unlucky to hit the post.
Akinade soon got on the end of a bouncing ball that should have been cleared by Gibbons before laying it on to Twine who blasted over with the goal at his mercy.
The former Seagull then went close himself seconds later, but he saw his shot smack of the advertising hoardings behind the goal as the Quinsborough Road outfit survived a real scare.
The 2017 First Division winners finished out the game stronger with Shane Griffin testing Sava late on as the Seagulls frantically searched for an equaliser. Doyle also went close late on with a snapshot, but it was in vain.
It was a professional second half performance from Alan Reynolds’ side who weathered a Bray first half storm to secure their passage to the semi-finals of the EA Sports Cup.
Bray Wanderers: Gabriel Sava; Dylan Barnett (Derek Daly, 58), Kilian Cantwell, Hugh Douglas, Sean Heaney; Darragh Gibbons, Luka Lovic, Dylan McGlade, Luke Nolan (Paul Keegan, 71); Joe Doyle, Brandon McCann (Jake Ellis, 77).
Subs not used: Philip Gannon, Adam Hayden, Andrew McGovern, Richie Purdy.
Booked: Hugh Douglas (14),
Waterford: Matthew Connor; Kenny Browne (Damien Delaney, 71), Shane Duggan, Rory Feely, Maxim Kouogun; Shane Griffin, Bastien Hery, George Poynton, Scott Twine (Zack Elbouzedi, 64); Ismahil Akinade, Cory Galvin (64).
Subs not used: Karolis Chvedukas, Hugo Keto, JJ Lunney, John Martin.
Booked: Shane Duggan (39)
Referee: Robert Harvey
Attendance: 400 (Estimate).
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Scott Twine (Waterford FC).