Waterford United -v- DundalkFri, Nov 02 2012
Ninety minutes could potentially make or break Waterford United or Dundalk on Friday night, as they begin the second leg of their Promotion/Relegation Play-off for the final place in next season’s Premier Division.
The sides played out a highly entertaining 2-2 draw on Tuesday night in Oriel Park, with ten-man Dundalk battling to earn a valuable draw. The result means little in the way on Friday night, the draw meaning a clean slate for the second leg.
Paul O’Brien's side failed to take advantage of their extra man on Tuesday and will feel they should very well have taken an advantage back to the RSC. Paul Phelan and Ben Ryan turned the game around for The Blues but Stephen McDonnell’s strike meant a 2-2 draw.
O’Brien welcomes back a wealth of experience in John Frost and Seamus Long, but will be without the services of target man Peter Keegan, and striker Willie John Kiely, who both miss the game through injury. Gary Dunphy remains out long term. Peter Higgins will face a late fitness test after taking a knock on Tuesday night.
“Myself and all the management staff are so proud of each and every one of our players,” Blues boss Paul O’Brien said. “We have a great belief in our own ability and fear no one, and we travelled to Dundalk on Tuesday in great spirits.”
“Our squad was tested by injuries and suspensions but every player played his part. The 2-2 result means we now play in the RSC with our destiny in our own hands. We can look forward to the game in the knowledge that we are well capable of achieving what all Blues supporters dream of.”
Darius Kierans’ season comes down to a single match at the RSC, and having had weeks to prepare for the play-offs, Kierans will be hoping to keep Dundalk in the Premier Division.
Lorcan Shannan gave Dundalk the lead on Tuesday, but they needed Stephen McDonnell’s superb long range goal to keep them in the tie. Peter Cherrie was busy and kept Dundalk in the tie with a string of good saves late in the game.
Kierans does have a selection headache ahead of the game, however, as centre-halves Liam Burns, who limped out early in Tuesday’s first leg, and Derek Furan, who failed a fitness test before kick-off last week, are both rated doubtful.
John Mountney, Gary Shanahan and Paul Walsh are also rated as doubtful Stephen Maher serves an automatic one-match suspension following his red card, on Tuesday, while young striker Bob McKenna again misses out through injury.
“I didn’t think we started well; we had a lot of anxiousness in our play. You could see that; we lacked a bit of composure,” Kierans told LMFM. “But I thought we were getting a grip of the game and getting on top when Stephen got sent-off. It was stupid what he done but the boys dug him out and kept us in the tie.
“We’re still there, we go into Friday with 11 men and the bigger pitch down there might suit us better.”
Dundalk have won just two of their 15 away league games this season while Waterford United have won seven of the their 14 home league games.
Waterford United have scored 46 league goals this season, twice as many as Dundalk.
Waterford United11/10; Draw 9/4; Dundalk 9/4.
Waterford United Injury News: Gary Dunphy, Willie John Kiely, Peter Keegan, Peter Higgins (doubtful).
Waterford United Suspension News: None.
Dundalk Injury News: Liam Burns (doubtful), Derek Foran (doubtful), John Mountney (doubtful), Gary Shanahan (doubtful), Paul Walsh (doubtful), Bob McKenna.
Dundalk Suspension News: Stephen Maher.
Brendan White is Extratime News Editor and is responsible for the news section of Extratime.ie. Brendan also covers matches in Dublin and Waterford. You can contact Brendan at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @whitebrendan.