Niall Newberry reports from the RSC
Dundalk stayed in touch at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table on Monday night thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win over ten-man Waterford at the Regional Sports Centre.
A brace from Michael Duffy along with a goal of the season contender from Jordan Flores – his first in the league for Dundalk – ensured that the Lilywhites recorded a fifth league win on the bounce.
Waterford were unchanged from their 0-0 draw against Bohemians at Dalymount Park last Friday.
Dundalk made two alterations from their 2-1 win over Shamrock Rovers on the same night with Brian Gartland and Dean Jarvis returning to the defence in place of Daniel Cleary and Dane Massey.
It was the visitors that created the first big chance of this encounter when Patrick Hoban played Duffy through on goal but ‘keeper Matthew Connor made himself big to deny the Dundalk winger.
Jamie McGrath was forced off with an injury after just 15 minutes and his replacement Flores should have scored but instead skewed his effort wide from a tight angle after he was played in by Hoban.
The Lilywhites continued their bright start when, from a long ball that was pumped into the box, Duffy somehow got away from Rory Feely before his shot forced Connor into another decent save.
Waterford had set up to frustrate the champions and were doing a good job at this stage, restricting Dundalk to speculative shots from distance with both Flores and Chris Shields firing efforts well over.
The Blues gradually began to grow into the match and Ismahil Akinade unleashed a long-range shot that had the veteran Gary Rogers at full stretch as the home crowd at the RSC voiced their approval.
Right-back Feely then bombed forward before whipping a dangerous looking cross into the box which drew the slightest of touches from the Dundalk goalkeeper and onto the head of Akinade.
Just as Waterford were settling into the game, they fell behind on 43 minutes when Duffy’s free-kick from the left went beyond everyone and into the net as Dundalk rather fortuitously took the lead.
Duffy almost doubled the visitor’s advantage in first half stoppage-time when he weaved some magic before finding Daniel Kelly, who looked certain to score only for Connor to save with his feet.
Vinny Perth’s side got their second in the 57th minute and what a goal it was. Some neat build-up between Hoban and Duffy allowed Flores to unleash a thunderbolt from distance high into the net.
The hosts saw their night go from bad to worse after Bastien Hery was given his marching orders when he received a second yellow card in quick succession following his foul on Patrick McEleney.
Now in cruise control, Dundalk grabbed the killer third when Shields passed for Duffy, who breezed through the challenge of several Waterford defenders before firing low into the bottom corner.
Dundalk were hungry for a fourth goal and Hoban forced Connor into yet another stop but in the end, Perth’s charges had to settle for three as they kept tabs on league leaders Shamrock Rovers.
Waterford: Matthew Connor; Rory Feely, Maxim Kouogun, Damien Delaney, Aaron Simpson; Shane Duggan (George Poynton 69), JJ Lunney; Zack Elbouzedi (Cory Galvin 75), Bastien Hery, Ismahil Akinade; Aaron Drinan (Scott Twine 69).
Subs not used: Hugo Keto (gk), Shane Griffin, John Martin, Dean Walsh.
Booked: Bastien Hery (61 & 62).
Sent Off: Bastien Hery (62).
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Dean Jarvis; Chris Shields, Patrick McEleney (Georgie Kelly 70); Daniel Kelly (John Mountney 61), Jamie McGrath (Jordan Flores 15), Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban.
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey (gk), Daniel Cleary, Cameron Dummigan, Joe McKee.
Booked: Dean Jarvis (71).
Referee: Derek Tomney.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Michael Duffy (Dundalk).