Garry Comerford 90' + 4' -
A stoppage time own-goal saw Dundalk move to within just one point of Cork City at the top of the SSE Airtricity League table following a 1-0 win over Waterford at Oriel Park on Friday night.
Dundalk had looked set for their fourth scoreless draw in six league matches before Michael Duffy’s cross from the left was headed into his own net by Garry Comerford in the fourth minute of stoppage time to break the hearts of Waterford, who would’ve been good value for a point.
Gary Rogers started in goal for Dundalk, becoming the eleventh player in history to reach 500 appearances in the League of Ireland in doing so, while Stephen Kenny made two changes from the team that was frustrated at St Patrick’s Athletic on Monday night, with Jamie McGrath and Karolis Chvedukas replacing Dylan Connolly and Ronan Murray, who picked up a knock in that game.
Waterford made four changes from their win over Bohemians on the same night with John Kavanagh, Garry Comerford, Sander Puri and Dean O'Halloran all coming into the starting eleven.
The visitors – who haven’t recorded a win against Dundalk in ten years – started brightly and almost took the lead when Puri rounded Rogers before Derek Daly’s shot was seemingly saved by the veteran Dundalk keeper but no corner was awarded, leaving the Waterford players incensed.
Puri was again involved, this time bringing the ball down from what was a lovely pass from captain Gavan Holohan, but the Estonian international winger was excellently tackled by the ever-industrious Chris Shields at the last minute just as he was about to pull the trigger and shoot at goal.
The Blues continued to pressurise the Dundalk defence, who could only clear the ball as far as Stanley Aborah but luckily for the hosts, the former Ajax midfielder’s shot flew harmlessly wide.
Dundalk created by far the best chance of the first half though, when Lithuanian international Chvedukas – who was making a first start for the club – saw his shot brilliantly saved by Waterford goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux following a lovely lay off from Patrick Hoban on the edge of the box.
Vigouroux, who looked confident and assured throughout, was again on hand to save from Dundalk captain Dane Massey’s shot from the edge of the area as the sides went in at the break scoreless.
The hosts really came out of the blocks at the beginning of the second half with Duffy’s deflected effort forcing Vigouroux into another fine stop before the Waterford custodian again saved from a Duffy shot with Massey somehow firing over from the rebound when it looked easier to score.
Most of Oriel Park thought Dundalk had broken the deadlock when Hoban tapped into an empty net after Jamie McGrath’s shot was saved by Vigouroux – the goal was ruled out for offside however.
Robbie Benson was next to try his luck but his effort sailed over the crossbar before Hoban headed over from what was a peach of a cross by Murray, who was only on the pitch a matter of seconds.
Dundalk were beginning to turn the screw at this point though Waterford continued to look dangerous on the counter attack and substitute John Martin left Sean Hoare for dead before forcing a magnificent save out of Rogers, with Holohan firing his low effort inches wide on the follow up.
Just as the game looked destined to finish scoreless, Duffy floated a cross into the box which was headed into his own net by the unfortunate Comerford as Dundalk picked up a vital three points.
Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Sean Gannon, Daniel Cleary, Sean Hoare, Dane Massey; Jamie McGrath (Marco Tagbajumi 79), Karolis Chvedukas (Ronan Murray 71), Chris Shields (Stephen O’Donnell 84), Michael Duffy; Robbie Benson, Patrick Hoban.
Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Stephen Folan, Dean Jarvis, Dylan Connolly.
Booked: Cleary (26).
Waterford: Lawrence Vigouroux; John Kavanagh, Kenny Browne, Dave Webster, Dylan Barnett; Derek Daly (John Martin 66), Stanley Aborah (Paul Keegan 76), Gavan Holohan, Garry Comerford, Sander Puri; Dean O’Halloran.
Subs not used: Niall Corbet, Shane Griffin, Justin Croke, Faysel Kasmi, Dean Walsh.
Booked: Browne (22).
Referee: Robert Harvey
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Daniel Cleary (Dundalk)