League Report: Dundalk FC 0 - 0 Waterford FC

Sam Sargeant kept his first league clean sheet of the season at Oriel Park

Sam Sargeant kept his first league clean sheet of the season at Oriel Park Credit: Hugh de Paor (ETPhotos)

Dundalk recorded their first home points of the league campaign with a goalless draw against Waterford FC in a game where both sides were indebted to their respective goalkeepers.

Following last weekend’s narrow defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic, Dundalk Head Coach Stephen O’Donnell made a couple of changes with the experienced duo of Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan being replaced in the starting lineup by debutant Zak Johnson and Sam Durrant who impressed in cameo roles over the past few games.

For the visitors, Darragh Power and the suspended ex Lilywhite Darragh Leahy were replaced by Rowan Mc Donald and another ex Dundalk defender Robbie McCourt following their 3-0 reverse at the hands of Derry City.

Dundalk had the best of the early exchanges with Robbie Benson forcing Sam Sargeant into a sprawling reach high to his right, preventing the Westmeath native opening the scoring with less than five minutes on the clock. However, that was pretty much all the goalmouth action for the next twenty minutes until Ross Munro’s left shin denied Padraig Amond a close range opener. 

The Carlovian had already reached a handful of goals this season and a delicious left wing cross from Parsons was on the money for assisting another until the shinpad of the Scottish keeper manning the nets for the home side intervened. 

At the other end of the field, the lively Durrant was desperate to open his account for the season with a thundering effort repelled by a strong wrist from Sargeant before whistling a shot beyond the despairing dive of the Englishman who was relieved to see it fly outside his top corner. 

Having conceded at least twice in each of their opening home league games, the home side arrived at the interval with their clean sheet intact. However, only just as Amond recommenced his duel with Munro- this time he ghosted past an otherwise impressive Johnson before his effort was smothered by the onrushing keeper. 

Vying with his goalkeeper for star performer was Archie Davies- the Englishman’s performances from right back earned himself Dundalk’s only representation on the PFAI Team of the Year last season and he provided plenty of attacking threat on the flank with a fizzing effort waking Sargeant up for the second half. Similar to Durrant’s first half strike, a slight realignment of the crosshairs would have seen the deadlock breached.

A drab half hour followed without note bar the recording of a half dozen substitutes.After their only goalscorer this season limped off, it left replacement Cameron Elliott as Dundalk’s prime goalscoring threat and the Scot almost delivered within moments of his introduction. Dancing past a static Waterford rearguard in the same penalty area where he netted his only league goal of 2023, a first major of 2024 was only denied by another smart stop from the visiting netminder.

Elliott went tumbling in the same area moments later but referee Kevin O’Sullivan- who maintained a steady hand throughout- decreed that the striker had fouled the Waterford defender in his attempt to get to the ball. This decision didn’t go down well with the home dugout and substitute Sam Durrant received a yellow for his protestations- the second time O’Sullivan had visited the Lilywhite bench to produce a card having sent Dundalk coach Patrick Cregg to the stands in the first half.

A first clean sheet of the season for Dundalk has put an end to a run of three straight defeats and, while the sight of their only league goalscorer this season Jamie Gullan leaving the ground on crutches does little to assuage any goalscoring fears, home fans witnessed a much improved display after defeats to Galway United and Sligo Rovers. For their part, Waterford too recorded a maiden shutout and remain third going into the international break. 

Dundalk: Ross Munro; Louie Annesley, Archie Davies, Zak Johnson, Hayden Muller; Robert Benson (Daryl Horgan 67), Zak Bradshaw, Samuel Durrant (Robert Mahon 76), Scott High, Ciaran McGuckin (Ryan O'Kane 67); Jamie Gullan (Cameron Elliott 67).

Subs not used: Sean Molloy, Mayowa Animasahun, John Mountney, Koen Oostenbrink, Paul Doyle.

Booked: Samuel Durrant (85), Cameron Elliott (86).

Sent off: None.

Waterford: Sam Sargeant; Ryan Burke, Grant Horton, Kacper Radkowski; Maleace Asamoah (Connor Evans 82), Barry Baggley (Niall O'Keeffe 75), Harvey Macadam (Romeo Akachukwu 73), Robert McCourt, Rowan McDonald, Connor Parsons; Padraig Amond.

Subs not used: Matthew Connor, Joseph Forde, Ben McCormack, Dean McMenamy, Gbemi Arubi, Christie Pattisson.

Booked: Niall O'Keeffe (90).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Kevin O’Sullivan

Attendance: 2344

extratime.com Player of the Match: Scott High