Darragh Burns 2' -
Andrew Dempsey reports from Richmond Park
St Patrick's Athletic maintained their unbeaten start to the 2021 Premier Division season thanks to a professional 1-0 win over Waterford at Richmond Park.
Darragh Burns’ strike was the difference between the sides in the second minute of the game as the visitors offered precious little in a positive sense.
It has been an impressive start to the 2021 season for St Patrick’s Athletic. Joint-top and unbeaten – they probably would have snapped your hand off at that before a ball was kicked this term.
Stephen O’Donnell’s Saints came into the game after being held by a Dundalk side who were perhaps fortunate to clinch a point against their visitors.
Following their late concession to the Lilywhite’s last weekend – the Athletic made six changes, with Jamie Lennon and Jason McClelland missing out in place of Alfie Lewis and Billy King.
Waterford on the other hand had just the one win from their opening league games – but they had only lost each game by the odd-goal and that continued with this result in Inchicore.
Kevin Sheedy’s charges were forced to make do without the services of ex-Irish international Daryl Murphy, while Shane Griffin returned to the starting XI.
It was the Saints who started the better of the two, and their early pressure told as quickly as teenager Burns scored.
He was found on the edge of the penalty area by Chris Forrester who played a deft pull-back to the teenager.
The Northern Irish eligible star composed himself on the edge of the penalty area before his shot found the back of the net with the aid of a deflection.
The Saints should have made it two moments later – but Shane Griffin skied his effort over the bar after some great wing play.
A low cross found Ronan Coughlan who saw his effort charged down by Paul Martin. The ball then fell to Griffin who blazed over the bar.
Pats continued to press and probe – and went close to scoring again midway through the first-half and would have done so if it was not for a committed block from Kyle Ferguson.
Waterford generally struggled during the half – with the best they could muster up being long-range shots from Darragh Power and Preston North End loanee Adam O’Reilly.
And the Saints went close again five minutes before the break through Coughlan again – but his header was superbly saved by Martin in the Waterford goal as they brought a one-goal lead into the break.
The second-half struggled to live up to much of its first-half hype – with both teams failing to create anything of note in a drab half of action although the hosts dominated the play – without penetrating in any real sense.
Ben McCormack probably went closest in the first few moments of the half – but his shot from outside the box could not hit the target.
Robbie Benson and Forrester then went close for the Saints – but their shots from outside the penalty area hardly troubled Martin.
Surprisingly, despite being behind, the visitors offered very little in an attacking sense – with Pats standing firm to deny any potential of an equaliser.
Their only tort of attack proved to be a dismissal to Waterford assistant boss Mike Newell who was given his marching orders over a disagreement regarding the tape on a player’s sock.
The visitors could not break down a strong Pat’s rear-guard as the Saints marched on maintaining their unbeaten start to the season.
Meanwhile, Waterford have now lost five of their opening six league games and head into a vital away clash against Longford Town on Saturday evening in ninth position.
St. Patrick's Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; Shane Griffin (John Mountney 54), Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham (c), Paddy Barrett; Ben McCormack (Matty Smith 65), Alfie Lewis (Jamie Lennon 82), Billy King (Robbie Benson 46), Chris Forrester, Darragh Burns; Rónán Coughlan.
Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Nahum Melvin-Lambert, Josh Keeley, Kian Corbally, Sam Bone.
Waterford: Paul Martin; Jamie Mascoll, Kyle Ferguson (c), Cameron Evans, Darragh Power; Shane Griffin (Prince Mutswunguma 62), Niall O'Keeffe (Jack Stafford 72), Adam O'Reilly, Tunmise Sobowale, James Waite; John Martin.
Subs not used: Eric Molloy, Katlego Mashigo, Matthew Connor, Josh Collins.
Booked: John Martin (33) ,Niall O'Keeffe (48) ,Jamie Mascoll (53) ,Prince Mutswunguma (67) ,James Waite (83) Tunmise Sobowale (90).
Referee: Graham Kelly
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Darragh Burns (St Patrick’s Athletic).