Dylan O’Connell reports from the RSC
A scoreless draw on Friday evening between Waterford and St. Patrick’s Athletic has condemned the Blues to this season’s promotion/relegation play-off where they will face UCD.
Waterford – if they were to guarantee their place in the top flight next season – came into the game needing to win and win well, but instead they limped to a 0-0draw in front of a lively crowd at the RSC.
St. Pats won’t care, they stuck to a game plan with a star studded XI featuring a number of players who will start next week’s FAI Cup final against Bohemians.
The Saints dominated the game through a close knit pass and move game plan. This involved putting bodies into the centre of the pitch and always putting the ball to the man in space. Lee Desmond often came forward to assist this, with the defender operating between midfield and defence.
Apart from a Robbie Benson header which glanced off the crossbar, the Athletic failed to create any meaningful chances.
The Blues resisted this by remaining compact, which cut off the Saints route to goal. Waterford had to be careful with getting forward and they only had two real chances in the first half. The first was blown wide by Niall O’Keeffe and the second was taken by Ronaldo Green, and his shot bobbed inches wide.
St. Pats had a flurry of chances at the start of the second half. Jason McClelland set up the first when he headed the ball down to an unmarked Kryain Nwoko and his shot trickled wide.
The Saints won the kick-out and they stormed up the pitch in numbers. Jamie Lennon led the charge and he nearly finished the move by chipping the ball into the area for Chris Forrester. Just as he went to take a touch, he was swallowed in blue jerseys. The ball was put out for a corner, which St. Pats failed to create anything from.
At this point in the game, news of Finn Harps’ commanding lead over Longford was well known. This didn’t affect Phoenix Patterson as he poked and probed for a path to goal, and when he got room to shoot, Vitezslav Jaros guessed the direction of the ball and dived lowed to save.
The Blues finished with two excellent chances with five minutes remaining. The first was from the boot of Jeremie Milambo, which was clawed out by Jaros. A corner was given, which fell to O’Keeffe at point blank range and he poked the ball towards goal, which was forced out by the St. Pats goalkeeper.
Waterford FC: Brian Murphy; Cameron Evans, Kyle Ferguson, Shane Griffin, Anthony Wordsworth, Junior Quitirna, Niall O’Keeffe, Jeremie Milambo, Ronaldo Green (Jamal Dupree 77), Phoenix Patterson, Eddie Nolan (George Forrest 71).
Subs not used: Matthew Connor (gk), Paul Martin (gk).
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Vitezslav Jaros; Sam Bone, Lee Desmond (Jak Hickman 45), Jamie Lennon (Nahum Melvin Lambert 71), Robbie Benson, Chris Forrester, Kyrian Nwoko (Kian Corbally 71), Jason McClelland, Billy King, Shane Griffin, James Abankwah (Ronan Coughlan 45).
Subs not used: Barry Murphy (gk), Josh Keely, Mattie Smith, Darragh Burns, Sam Curtis.
Referee: Ben Connolly
Extratime Plater of the Match: Robbie Benson (St. Patrick’s Athletic)