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- 2020 WFAI Cup Prelim
Dundalk battled back from 2-0 down to the Blues to earn a draw on a dramatic Friday night at Oriel Park.
Either team could have claimed all three points with poor discipline hindering the visitors who played out the final dozen minutes with ten men.
That was crucial as first Pat Hoban on 84 minutes and then Daniel Cleary in injury time cancelled out Waterford’s goals from Matty Smith and Ali Coote – the player who had picked up that red card.
In injury time Dundalk peppered the Blues goal, firing corners in on top of the nervy Tadhg Ryan who had come on in place of the injured Brian Murphy late in the first half. While Dundalk kept their two year unbeaten home record in the league intact, it was another two points dropped and they remain in third placed.
They are a point behind Bohs and seven points behind league leaders Shamrock Rovers – both of those clubs play their respective game in hands over the weekend.
In a hot and humid Oriel Park, Dundalk’s best first half chance fell to Chris Shields. The Lillywhite captain got on the end of a Stefan Colovic’s corner to force Murphy into making a save.
Colovic took a succession of Dundalk corners but the Blues in the first half did well to snuff out the significant set piece threat that the champions bring to the pitch. They will rue the fact they couldn’t do similar in the second half.
When the opening goal came, it really was the first clear cut opportunity that came the visitors way but it was an excellently taken goal. Tyreke Wilson created it down the left wing on 24 minutes. He took the ball on and after a one-two with Michael O’Connor, Wilson’s pin point pass played in Matty Smith who slotted it home.
The Blues suffered a blow close on half time as Brian Murphy came racing out of his penalty area to head a Michael Duffy long ball away and when he competed for the dropping ball with Patrick Hoban he picked up an injury that necessitated his withdrawal.
There was a shout for a Dundalk peno just before half time. Substitute Sean Murray, who had entered the action due to an injury to John Mountney, went down in the box under pressure from Ali Coote but referee Ray Matthews waved play on.
Vinny Perth made three substitutions at half time as he looked to get his team back into the game going three at the back and bringing David McMillan on up front to partner Patrick Hoban.
However within five minutes of the restart they found themselves 2-0 down. O’Connor was able to flick on a loose Dundalk header into the path of Kurtis Byrne and the former Dundalk man sweetly struck shot beat Gary Rogers.
The ‘keeper needed to hang onto Coote’s well struck shot just after the hour mark as space began to open up at the back as Dundalk pressed forward trying to find a goal. His opposite number did well to take a bouncing ball off McMillan’s toe as he raced to one over the top.
The striker couldn’t direct his header on goal when getting on the end of a Josh Gatt cross moments later.
Waterford were happy enough to wind the clock down aided with some cynical fouling that saw five Blues players go in the book in the second half. There was one heavy tackle too many for Ray Matthews though who produced a second yellow for Coote 12 minutes from time.
Dundalk kept pressing and got a goal back six minutes from time as Hoban headed home Sean Murray’s corner from the right. Then Dundalk turned the screw against the ten men with a series of corners that put untold pressure on the Blues.
Cleary equalised when his flicked header at the near post beat Ryan when the ‘keeper really should have done better and further in injury time the ball bounced back off the frame of the goal when it seemed Dundalk had won the game.
Tom Petty’s ‘I won’t back down’ blasted out on the PA after the final whistle and while the Lilywhites certainly didn’t back down late on the game, there will be no easy way out for them if they are to retain their title with just ten games to go.
Their recent run of form has seen them earn just five points from the last five games - and they will need to turn that around if they are to retain their title.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, Daniel Cleary, Dane Massey (Nathan Oduwa h/t); John Mountney (Sean Murray 28), Chris Shields ©, Patrick McEleney (Will Patching 70), Stefan Colovic (David McMillan h/t), Michael Duffy (Joshua Gatt h/t); Patrick Hoban.
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey (gk), Daniel Kelly.
Waterford: Brian Murphy (Tadhg Ryan 42); Oluwatunwise Sobowale, Sam Bone, Robbie McCourt, Tyreke Wilson; Jake Davidson, Matthew Smith; Robert Weir, Kurtis Byrne (Will Fitzgerald 82), Ali Coote; Michael O’Connor (c).
Subs not used: Tadhg Ryan (GK), Niall O’Keefe, Will Longbottom, Darragh Power, John Martin.
Booked: Robert Weir (54), Ali Coote (62 and 78), Michael O’Connor (69), Matty Smith (70), Oluwatunwise Sobowale (86).
Red Card: Ali Coote (78).
Referee: Ray Matthews
extratime.com man of the match: Kurtis Byrne (Waterford)