Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup Report: Stenhousemuir 3 - 2 Waterford

Sat, Oct 12 2019

A stoppage time winner from Stenhousemuir's Mark McGuigan clinched a 3-2 win for the Scottish League Two side and ended Waterford's hopes of progress in the Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Cup.

Waterford had taken a 24th minute lead with a well struck shot from Will Fitzgerald, but within four minutes Alan McLaughlin's free kick levelled for the home side an equaliser.

Just after the hour David Hopkirk put the Warriors ahead for the first time, but three minutes after entering the action as a 70th minute substitute, Michael O'Connor headed home the Waterford equaliser.

But with seconds remaining and a penalty shoot-out seeming inevitable, Mark McGuigan pounced to send his side in to the last eight, and end League of Ireland interest in the competition for another season.

Both teams came into the game on the back of a good run of recent form, with Waterford having collected five wins from their previous seven games, the only two reversals being against champions Dundalk.

The previously struggling Warriors side had recorded two wins and a draw from their first three League Two games under the newly appointed management team of Davie Irons and Kevin McGoldrick, the most recent result being an eye-catching 3-2 win over Cove Rangers last Saturday, which was the league leaders' first defeat of the season. 

They made just one change from that game, with Connor McBride coming in for Marky Munro, while Waterford manager Alan Reynolds shuffled the pack with eight changes from the side that beat Sligo Rovers at the RSC on Tuesday night.  

It was the home side who made the early running, and after Paul Martin in the Waterford goal had to react quickly to push away a Willie Gibson free kick, Waterford had a real let off on 12 minutes when Mark McGuigan launched himself to meet a Chris O'Neill cross with a diving that beat Martin and rebounded off the crossbar.

Waterford were very much second best in the opening quarter of the game, but against the run of play, they took the lead in the 24th minute.

Cory Galvin took a heavy touch from a Dean Walsh pass which allowed home defender Chris O'Neill to clear, but the ball fell into the path of Will Fitzgerald who drilled the ball into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area.

It was rough luck on Stenhousemuir who had been the dominant side up to that point, but within a minute they were almost level when David Marsh's header beat Paul Martin but was cleared off the line by Rory Feely

However, Waterford's respite was only temporary as four minutes later Scott McLaughlin curled a delightful free kick over the wall and into the net off the underside of the crossbar to give Stenhousemuir a deserved equaliser.

As play swung from end to end, Dean Walsh had a shot blocked by the outstretched leg of home goalkeeper Graeme Smith, at the other end Connor McBride missed the target with a header from three yards out after the Waterford defence had failed to deal with a corner kick, and the first half ended with Waterford coming close to taking the lead when Dean Walsh hit the post.

The opening exchanges of the second half delivered little in the way of clear cut opportunities, but Stenhousemuir took the lead just after the hour mark with a goal that Waterford captain Rory Feely will not want to recall.

Feely was far too casual and was caught in possession by Alan Cook who stole the ball and played in David Hopkirk to bury a shot just inside the far post.

With 20 minutes remaining, Waterford made a triple substitution in an attempt to freshen up the attack, with JJ Lunney, Walter Figueira and Michael O'Connor all joining the action, and within two minutes O'Connor made an immediate impact.

After winning a free kick out on the right, O'Connor then rose to glance in the resulting cross from Rory Feely to bring Waterford back level.

All of a sudden, Waterford looked a different proposition altogether, with the newly introduced trio all prominent in attacking moves, and after Poynton shot wide from a good position, O'Connor came desperately close to getting his second of the evening with nine minutes remaining when he collected a long ball out of defence with a great first touch, before firing just wide from 12 yards.

But as the game moved into the final minute of stoppage time, and with penalties seeming to be the only way that the sides would be separated, Stenhousemuir struck the decisive blow with a last gasp winner.

Willie Gibson won the ball in a strong challenge on Cory Galvin to play Ryan Watters through on goal, and when the substitute's shot was beaten out by Martin, Mark McGuigan followed up to tuck the loose ball into the net off the far post.

Over the course of the 90 minutes, Stenhousemuir probably deserved the win, but Waterford will be left rueing missed late chances and wondering if the outcome would have been different had Lunney, Figueira and O'Connor entered the action earlier than they did.

Stenhousemuir:  Graeme Smith, Chris O'Neil, David Marsh, Andy Munro, Scott McLaughlin; Thomas Halleran, William Gibson, Alan Cook (Ryan Watters 80);  David Hopkirk, Mark McGuigan, Conor McBride (Kieran Anderson 62).

Subs not used:  Kyle Marley, Dylan Dykes, Liam Scullion

Waterford: Paul Martin, Darragh Power, Rory Feely, Rob Slevin, John Kavanagh (JJ Lunney 70); Cory Galvin, Georgie Poynton, Dean Walsh (Walter Figueira 70), Tom Holland, Will Fitzgerald; Dean O’Halloran (Michael O’Connor 70).

Subs not used:  Matthew Connor, Sam Bone, Maxim Kouogun.