Andrew Dempsey reports from Dalymount Park
An efficient and well-oiled Waterford side saw off a youthful, yet impressive Bohemians team in a thoroughly entertaining 3-1 victory over the Gyspies at Dalymount Park.
Cristian Magerusan gave Bohs an early lead before Sander Puri and Stanley Aborah gave the Blues a quickfire advantage before Noel Hunt put the result to bed just before the hour mark.
The result moves the Blues level on points with Shamrock Rovers, with the Hoops significant goal difference keeping them in third place.
A much-changed Bohemians took to the field with a FAI Cup semi-final on Monday on their minds while Blues boss Alan Reynolds stuck with his tried and tested recent side looking to strengthen their already tight grip on the European spots.
In truth, it was a quiet enough start to the game at Dalymount Park as neither side could impose their game and style onto their opponents at the spiritual home of Irish football.
The game exploded into life in the 16thminute thanks to an expertly taken Cristian Magerusan goal after a superb ball in from Jamie Hamilton on the Bohemians left-hand side.
Stunned into action, the Blues grabbed an equaliser thanks to a Sander Puri poke home after a Dylan Barnett delivery into the box.
Perhaps it may have been a Daniel Byrne own-goal, but it mattered little to the delirious army of Waterford fans who densely populated the right-hand side of the Jodi Stand in the northside Dublin venue.
Just minutes afterwards, Waterford grabbed an unlikely lead through a Stanley Aborah penalty in the 25thminute after Patrick Kirk took down Estonian International star Puri just inside the penalty area.
A composed Aborah, sent Colin McCabe, the stand-in Bohs ‘keeper the wrong way to give the Blues a massive lead as they stepped up their Europa League ambitions.
Remarkably, Waterford could have wrapped the game up by the half-hour mark were it not for some misfortune after Garry Comerford saw his free header just flash wide of McCabe’s goal in the last real opening of the half.
Starting the second half as they finished the first, Waterford looked to bury any hope of a Bohemians fight back and do that they did through a comical Noel Hunt goal in the 55thminute.
Puri pressured McCabe into a schoolboy error as Daniel Casey was unable to control the ball from McCabe’s clearance. The ball eventually found Hunt who passed the ball into an open net albeit off the bottom of the Dalymount goalpost.
Cory Galvin then had a wonderful opportunity to make it four, but the former Bray winger was denied by the crossbar as the ball bounced clear on a relieved McCabe’s goal-line as Keith Long’s side tried to weather a sustained Waterford storm.
Asserting their dominance on the game and with the result all but guaranteed, the midfield duo of Stanley Aborah and Paul Keegan ran the show in the middle of the park as the two attacking outlets of Puri and Galvin caused a litany of problems for the youthful hosts.
Dean O’Halloran went close six minutes from time as he saw his close-range effort just go over McCabe in the Gypsies goal as a buoyant away support sang the praises of their heroes on a memorable night for the Blues in Dalymount.
The result signalled an end to Bohs ten game unbeaten run in all competitions, but you get the impression the result mattered little on a night where Waterford strengthened their already strong Europa League ambitions.
Bohemians: Colin McCabe; Dan Casey, Dan Byrne, Paddy Kirk, Andy Lyons; Oscar Brennan, Robbie McCourt (Rob Cornwall, 67) Jamie Hamilton, Daniel Kelly (Promise Omochere, 61), Eoghan Stokes, Cristian Magerusan (Danny Grant, 73).
Subs not used: Sean Bohan, Rob Cornwall, Ali Reghba, Lee Rock, Ryan Graydon.
Booked: Paddy Kirk (24) Eoghan Stokes (27).
Waterford FC: Niall Corbet; Kenny Browne, Rory Feely, Garry Comerford; Dylan Barnett, Bastien Hery, Paul Keegan, Sander Puri, Cory Galvin (Courtney Duffus, 89), Stanley Aborah (Gavan Holohan, 90+2); Noel Hunt (Dean O’Halloran, 66).
Subs not used: Matthew Connor, Noe Baba, Dessie Hutchinson, Carlos Wilson.
Referee: Sean Grant
Attendance: 2,000 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Cory Galvin (Waterford FC).
90+4' FULL-TIME in Dalymount Park and a 3-1 Blues win secures a top 4 finish in our first season back in the Premier Division. Cristian Magerusan gave Bohs the lead but goals from Sander Puri, Stanley Aborah + Noel Hunt secure a deserved three points against a spirited Bohs side.— Waterford FC (@WaterfordFCie) October 5, 2018