Andrew Dempsey reports from the UCD Bowl.
UCD rose up to eighth place in the Premier Division table with an emphatic 4-1 victory over a desperately poor Waterford at the UCD Bowl on Friday evening.
Zach Elbouzedi halved the deficit for Waterford before the break after Gary O’Neill and Yoyo Mahdy put the Students two up, before Richie O’Farrell and Sean McDonald made sure of the win in the second half.
UCD came into the game fresh off the back of a morale-boosting 2-1 Dublin derby win over Shelbourne at Tolka Park on Tuesday evening, with Timmy Molloy’s late strike proving to be decisive late on.
Waterford came into the game in good form themselves having won their last three on the bounce, over St Patrick’s Athletic, Finn Harps and Galway United.
The Blues came into the game fifth in the league table, only four points off Bohemians in third position after seven games played.
Waterford started strongly and, through Zac Elbouzedi, they posed a real threat to the UCD rear-guard. JJ Lunney went closest for the Blues early on, but his dipping volley crept over the bar after just five minutes.
UCD looked to hit back straight away through Dan Tobin but Matthew Connor was more than equal to the full-back’s strike on goal and the in-form Richie O’Farrell couldn’t tap home the rebound from close range.
However, it was UCD who took the lead through a spot-kick from Gary O’Neill in the 20th minute. O’Neill was taken down clumsily by Damien Delaney after Yoyo Mahdy found the midfielder on the edge of the penalty area.
The Tralee native sent Connor the wrong way to give Collie O’Neill’s side an early lead.
UCD were not finished their lightning strike and they grabbed a second just moments later.
Richie O’Farrell was taken down outside the box and O’Neill stepped up to take the free-kick which hit the crossbar before Mahdy picked up the rebound to send the Students two goals clear.
Waterford were clearly rattled and could have conceded a third straight after, but the Students were unable to capitalise from a string of successive corners.
Alan Reynolds’ side eventually made their way back into the game and hit the post through Elbouzedi who was a constant thorn in Mark Dignam’s side.
Despite that, the Blues were not be denied and they halved the deficit just before the break through Twine who fired home from close range. Aaron Drinan went on a slaloming drive before firing the ball on target and Twine scored from range.
The drama was not over as just before the whistle, the Student’s hit the post through Mahdy after the Egyptian-Irish forward was fed in by the skilful and tricky Farrugia to conclude a pulsating opening period.
Clearly overrun in the midfield positions, Alan Reynolds sought to rectify his sides first half issues, but it was UCD who extended their lead straight after the break through O’Farrell.
The Irish Under-19 International saw his glancing headed effort fly past Connor in the Waterford goal after Gary O’Neill’s sumptuous delivery caught out the Blues defence much to the dismay of the sizeable contingent from the South-East.
Following O’Farrell’s header, the second half failed to live up to much of the hype surrounding the opening of the game as Stephen Kenny watched on from the stands at the UCD Bowl among the Waterford support.
UCD made sure of all three points with just over a quarter of an hour to go as the recently introduced Sean McDonald fired into an empty net after Kevin Lynch’s short back pass sent in the young forward.
It was a fitting goal which defined the game as Waterford were heavily punished for their lacklustre performances with the Students being that much sharper than the visitors throughout the ninety.
UCD must now prepare themselves for a home clash against Derry City next while Waterford must lick their wounds as they prepare for a daunting away trip to Tallaght Stadium to face Shamrock Rovers.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Dan Tobin, Josh Collins, Liam Scales, Mark Dignam; Richie O’Farrell, Gary O’Neill, Timmy Molloy (Paul Doyle, 82), Jason McClelland, Neil Farrugia (Kevin Coffey, 79); Yoyo Mahdy (Sean McDonald, 72).
Subs not used: Gavin Sheridan (gk), Evan Farrell, Darragh Corcoran, Luke Boore.
Booked: Sean McDonald (78).
Waterford: Matthew Connor; Maxim Kouogun, Aaron Simpson (Rory Feely, HT), Damien Delaney, Kevin Lynch; JJ Lunney (John Martin, 69), Shane Duggan, Karolis Chvedukas (Bastien Hery, HT); Zach Elbouzedi, Scott Twine, Aaron Drinan.
Subs not used: Dean Walsh, Georgie Poynton, Cory Galvin, Hugo Keto.
Booked: Damien Delaney (49).
Referee: Anthony Buttimer.
Attendance: 515 (Official).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary O’Neill (UCD).