Bohemians earned a deserved three points on Friday evening with Rob Cornwall’s goal just before half-time enough to put paid to Waterford’s ambitions at the RSC.
The first incident of note came after just two minutes of play when Waterford’s James Waite flung a cross into the Bohemians area and the visiting defenders had to earn their corn to prevent the Blues’ big striker, Daryl Murphy, from wrestling an opening goal.
How things would change over the course of a match that saw Bohs confidently stamp their authority on proceedings while the home team were left bobbing in their wake.
It would not be unfair to say that Waterford had the better of things in the opening 15 minutes. Isaac Tshipamba, newly arrived from French football, looked full of potential out on the right while Adam O’Reilly worked diligently in central midfield. On the left, John Martin was a willing runner and up front the towering presence of Murphy cast an ominous shadow.
But as the half progressed it was Paul Martin in the Waterford goal who began to catch the eye, his confident command of the penalty area signifying a shift in the balance of power.
Gradually the Gypsies began to dominate, forcing a string of corners and, while rarely directly threatening the home goal, looking far the more likely to grab an opener.
Full back Tyreke Wilson pushed dangerously up the left flank while Keith Ward ahead of him cut inside to good effect. And on the other side Liam Burt became a constant menace to the Waterford back four.
A sign of the growing pressure came when O’Reilly sacrificed himself for a booking when putting an illegal halt to a Bohemians breakaway and then, 15 minutes later, testing the referee’s generosity by stopping James Finnerty’s forward charge with similar disregard for the laws of the game.
Ten minutes before the break Waterford suffered the loss of striker Murphy, limping off to be replaced by Prince Mutswunguma and with his departure went the larger part of the home team’s goal threat.
In the latter stages of the half Waterford had conceded a parade of free kicks, mostly on the right side of their defence, but with two minutes to go before the break they gave one up on the left that would yield the opening and decisive goal.
Tunmise Sobowale committed the foul and from 25 yards out Wilson curled an effort towards the top right corner of the goal. Paul Martin did well to claw the ball out but it fell to the inrushing Rob Cornwall who finished with ease from the six yard line.
Waterford should have levelled the game four minutes after the restart when defender Kyle Ferguson squandered a free header from close range but Bohs were soon back in the driving seat, Liam Burt just failing to connect with a cross from the left two minutes later.
Burt turned provider five minutes later, threading a ball through to Georgie Kelly who was inches away from adding a second.
On the hour there was a flurry of substitutions which didn’t help a game that never quite found its pattern. Waterford were most in need of some kind of redefinition of their purpose but the changes made failed to provide it.
In the closing stages they were left to rely on hopeful balls forward and the unflagging determination of John Martin and that was never going to be enough against a Bohemians side who were clearly the better team on the day.
In added time Waterford were handed a final opportunity from a corner but a dreadful delivery from Jamie Mascoll seemed to typify the Blues’ evening and the final whistle sounded moments later.
Waterford: Paul Martin; Darragn Power, Kyle Ferguson, Cameron Evans, Jamie Mascoll; Isaac Tshipamba, Tunmise Sobowale, Adam O’Reilly (Katlego Mashigo 61), John Martin; James Waite (Jack Stafford 57); Daryl Murphy (Prince Mutswunguma 36).
Subs Not Used: Matt Connor (gk), Niall O’Keeffe, Eric Molloy, Shane Griffin, Josh Collins.
Bohemians: James Talbot; Rory Feely, Rob Cornwall, James Finnerty, Tyreke Wilson; Liam Burt, Ali Coote, Keith Buckley, Keith Ward (Jack Moylan 62); Ross Tierney (Dawson Devoy 62), Georgie Kelly.
Subs Not Used: Stephen McGuinness (gk), Bradley Rolt, Promise Omochere, Thomas Oluwa, Conor Levingston, Ciaran Kelly, Anto Breslin.
Referee: Adriano Reale.
Player of the Match: Liam Burt (Bohemians).
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