Tim Brennan reports from the UCD Bowl
Waterford picked up a vital three points on the on Friday evening as they came out on top of a nervy battle with fellow relegation strugglers UCD at the UCD Bowl grabbing the winner five minutes from time.
The home team were looking to bounce back from their recent hammering at the hands of Shamrock Rovers and Collie O’Neill made a number of changes from Monday evening’s game. Bristol Rovers bound Liam Scales returned to the starting lineup for what could be one of his final appearances for the Students.
Tom Murphy made his debut in goal, while Sam Byrne was drafted straight into the starting line up having only signed during the week following his release from Bohemians. For Waterford, recent signing John Kavanagh line out at left full back in his first competitive start for the club.
The Students struggled to find their usual rhythm in this game, and it was the away side who took the lead on nine minutes. Zach Elbouzedi found himself onside and in space on the left of the penalty area. He had time to cut inside before finishing past Murphy.
This wasn’t to be a sign of things to come however, as the Students tightened up at the back and succeeded in limiting the away side to any other clear cut chances in the first half.
The home side’s inability to create anything in the opposion half meant that there was little of note, aside from Liam Kerrigan’s shot from outside the box which was spectacularly diverted by Matthew Connor in the Waterford goal.
In he second half Waterford showed some early promise. With only a few minutes of the half played, Elbouzedi found Jonathan Lunney unmarked in the UCD penalty area however he sidefooted wide with the goal at his mercy.
However the game again settled down into a familiar pattern of passing and probing, with little in the way of clear cut chances created by either side.
Kerrigan continued to show good industry for the Students, and his neat one-two with Jason McLelland created UCD’s first shooting chance for Paul Doyle on 56 minutes. However his strike was well parried by Connor.
The next UCD chance fell to Kerrigan and he made no mistake in rifling past the Waterford keeper having found time and space inside the Waterford penalty area to net the equaliser.
The game seemed to be heading towards a draw when Waterford hit the winner five minutes from time. The away team’s corner kick was lofted clear, however Robert Slevin’s hopeful return caught the onrushing UCD defence out over the top and the ball dropped to Dean Walsh who hit a first time half volley across Murphy and into the far corner.
The finish was excellent given Walsh hadn’t been on long and gives Waterford some breathing space in the bottom half of the table, as well as taking them above Munster rivals Cork City.
For UCD, O’Neill will be willing the closure of the transfer window as he looks to establish a settled side for what will be a difficult relegation battle for the Students.
UCD: Tom Murphy; Evan Farrell, Liam Scales, Harry McEvoy, Mark Dignam; Jack Keaney, Paul Doyle (Danu Kinsella Bishop 90), Richie O’Farrell, Jason McCelland, Liam Kerrigan (Jack Ryan 82); Sam Byrne (Yoyo Mahdy 78).
Subs not used: Gavin Sheridan, Daniel Tobin, Luke Boore, Aaron McGrath.
Waterford: Matthew Connor; Rory Feely, Maxim Kouogun, Robert Slevin, John Kavanagh; Shane Duggan (George Poynton 82), Tom Holland, Cory Galvin (Karolis Chvedukas 60), Jonathan Lunney, Zack Elbouzedi; Michael O’Connor (Dean Walsh 73)
Subs not used: Dean O’Halloran, William Fitzgerald, Colm Whelan, Paul Martin
Booked: Maxim Kouogun, Rory Feely
Referee: Anthony Buttimer
Attendance: 500 (Estimate)
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Liam Kerrigan