Waterford earned a place in the quarter-finals of the EA Sports Cup with a deserved 2-0 win over Cobh Ramblers at the RSC on Easter Monday afternoon.
A crowd of 702 gathered to watch the game and they were rewarded with a sparkling first half display by the home team. Blues hitman Mark O’Sullivan started on the bench, allowing wide midfielder Dean O’Halloran to take up the role of lone striker and it was he who gave Waterford a 28th minute lead with a well executed header from Kenny McEvoy’s cross.
Waterford impressed throughout the opening half with Shane O’Connor and Garry Comerford pulling the strings in central midfield and both McEvoy and Derek Daly creating opportunities from the flanks. But it was the hard running and determination of O’Halloran that provided the focal point for the home team’s performance.
Robin Dempsey came close for Waterford two minutes before O’Halloran’s opener but Cobh ‘keeper Adam Mylod pulled off a fine save from the full back’s header, and five minutes before the break some excellent close control from McEvoy gave Daly a chance which he drove narrowly wide. One minute later, Shane O’Connor dipped a twenty-yard effort just over the Cobh bar.
Ian Mylod had a chance for Cobh after 12 minutes but after Matt Whelan’s clever flick had played him into space the midfielder drove a well hit shot straight at Matt Connor. Whelan then played Ross Mann in behind Waterford’s defence but failed to follow the play and Mann’s return pull back found only empty space.
Mann was probably Cobh’s most likely scorer but he headed Scott McCarthy’s cross straight at Connor on moments before Waterford scored, and then just failed to reach a cross from Mylod on 33 minutes.
Cobh’s chances were limited and by the time the half time whistle sounded Waterford had assumed complete control, and Alan Reynolds’ side would have been a tad disappointed not to have gone in with a bigger lead.
Unfortunately this momentum was not carried into the second half, which paled in comparison to the first. Cobh suffered an early blow when centre back Ben O’Riordan was forced off after a clash of heads with O’Halloran but Waterford failed to take advantage of their comprehensive control of the ball and the game began to sag.
Cobh occasionally worked a half chance which kept alive the possibility that they might sneak an equaliser but Waterford made a double change on 65 minutes that relit their engine. Mark O’Sullivan and Jack Lynch were brought on and it was O’Sullivan who inspired the Blues to a finish the contest with a second goal three minutes from time.
On 69 minutes Lynch sent McEvoy away down the right and O’Sullivan scooped his cross wide of the target. Still the game remained in the doldrums but O’Sullivan’s physical battle with Cian Kingston offered some entertainment and the striker’s willingness to chase the ball into the corners kept the Cobh defence on their toes.
With 87 minutes played Comerford set off on a run down the left before playing a clever ball into O’Sullivan. He unselfishly squared the ball to Daly who had all the time he needed to pound it into the roof of the net from close range.
O’Sullivan’s cross to Dave Mulcahy should have provided a third on 90 minutes but the substitute fluffed his header from six yards and another O’Sullivan lay-off a minute later might again have extended Waterford’s lead but Daly’s back-heel was stopped on the line by Mylod.
Waterford FC: Matt Connor; Robin Dempsey (Jack Lynch 65), Gary Delaney, Patrick McClean, Conor Whittle; Kenny McEvoy (Dave Mulcahy 77), Shane O’Connor (Mark O’Sullivan 65), Garry Comerford, Derek Daly; Anthony McAlavey; Dean O’Halloran.
Subs Not Used: Matthew Sheehan (gk), Owen Wall, John Martin, Darryl Walsh.
Booked: P McClean (55).
Cobh Ramblers: Adam Mylod; Shane Lowth, Cian Kingston, Ben O’Riordan (Craig Donnellan (50), Scott McCarthy (Kyle McNamara 64); Ross Mann (Stephen Christopher 79), Chris McCarthy, Jason Abbott, Ian Mylod; Cian Coleman; Matthew Whelan.
Subs Not Used: Michael Sadys, Dean Swords, Darren Murphy, Ryan Hogan.
Referee: Sean Grant.
Extratime Man of the Match: Dean O’Halloran (Waterford FC).