A late Patrick McClean header from a Derek Daly free kick gave Waterford a hard earned 2-1 victory over Cobh Ramblers in an intense and passionate SSE Airtricity League First Division Munster derby at the RSC.
Leaders Waterford were out of the blocks early and deservedly took a twelfth minute lead. Daly chipped the ball in from the left for big Mark O’Sullivan to try and flick it on with his head before Cobh’s defensive block rebounded to the former Cork City star and he squared the ball across the six-yard box for Kenny McEvoy to tap home from close range.
Ramblers had plenty of possession and enjoyed their own periods of dominance and Stephen Henderson’s men claimed a deserved equaliser in the 53rd minute. Full back Ian Mylod swung a dangerous free kick across the Waterford area. Attempting to clear, substitute defender Gary Delaney only succeeded in heading past his own keeper Matthew Connor, Delaney had replaced the experienced Kenny Browne who was forced to retire injured early on.
Whelan and Craig Donnellan had a number of chances for Ramblers but were foiled by an alert Connor in the Blues’ goal. Whelan did have one glorious opportunity however, from a clever corner move but he blazed over the ball from 18-yards range after 74 minutes. The men in the claret and blue will probably feel slightly aggrieved not to have taken something for their efforts on the night.
With bands and singers among a fervent 1,600-strong attendance, the red-hot atmosphere at the RSC befitted a top of the table clash. These Munster rivals will meet again at the same venue in ten days’ time in the EA Sports Cup. They’re likely to be close all the way to the business end of the league season. But Waterford claim the bragging rights for the moment and outright top spot in the standings, courtesy of their first home league win over Ramblers since 2014.
Waterford: Matthew Connor; Patrick McClean, Kenny Browne (Gary Delaney 18), Dave Mulcahy; Garry Comerford, Derek Daly, Jake Evans, Tom Smith, Shane O’Connor, Kenny McEvoy (Dean O’Halloran 73); Dean Walsh (Anthony McAlavey 62), Mark O’Sullivan.
Subs not used: Matthew Sheehan (gk), Conor Whittle, Jack Whittle, Tunmise Sobowale.
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt; Charlie Fleming, Ben O’Riordan, James McSweeney, Ian Mylod; Stephen Christopher, Karl Caulfield, Craig Donnellan, Cian Coleman, Scott McCarthy; Matthew Whelan.
Subs not used: Adam Mylod (gk), Chris McCarthy, Shane Lowth, Kyle McNamara, Jason Abbott, Ross Mann, Dean Swords.
Referee: Eoghan O’Shea.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Patrick McClean (Waterford).