It’s advantage Waterford Utd as they take a two goal lead into the second leg of the First Division play-off tie after claiming a vital win over Longford Town in Flancare Park.
Waterford made the perfect start to the game; opening the scoring inside the first minute through Peter White. They doubled their advantage seven minutes after the interval when Craig Burns headed home Gary Dempsey’s free-kick.
Longford had plenty of possession and created lots of chances but just couldn’t find a way of getting back into the game; Waterford keeper Packie Holden was forced into making just one real save of note during the game. Their inability to put away chances has been the story of their season.
Some supporters had barely taken their seats when Waterford opened the scoring in the 1st minute; Peter White getting onto the end of a left-wing cross to head past Longford keeper Craig Hyland.
The goal stunned the home side and it took them a few minutes to settle into the game. They got a hold of the game but despite having lots of possession they failed to have any real effort on target. In the 8th minute Gary Cronin’s strike from distance was deflected out for a corner by David Breen while in the 10th minute Keith Gillespie’s ball into the box was easily gathered by Holden.
Tony Griffiths had a great chance to draw the home side level in the 17th minute but he headed straight at the Waterford netminder. Waterford then broke down the field and very nearly doubled their lead; Keegan hit a powerful strike which was superbly tipped onto the crossbar by Hyland.
The game then faded a little as a contest as both sides failed to create any chances of note. There were a few half-chances but nothing to trouble either keeper as the visitors went in at the break leading by White’s goal.
Longford introduced Karl Bermingham for the second half in the hope of getting a goal back but it was the visitors who got the second goal of the game seven minutes after the break when Dempsey’s free was headed home by the unmarked Craig Burns.
Five minutes later Longford had a chance to pull a goal back but Thomas Crawley fluffed his shot, Mark Salmon picked up the loose ball but his effort was cleared by the Waterford defence.
Waterford were always dangerous on the break and in the 63rd minute Phelan forced Hyland into making an excellent save with a rasping shot from just outside the box. Longford decided to introduce Austin Skelly in the 66th minute and his arrival certainly sparked some life into the Longford attack.
In the 70th minute Gillespie broke down the field and Skelly did very well to keep the ball in play and head it back across goal but Bermingham couldn’t get onto the end of it. One minute later and Longford had calls for a penalty waved away by Kerry referee Kevin O’Regan after it appeared that Bermingham was pushed in the box when going for the ball.
It was all the home side at this stage and they pressed hard for a goal; Crawley whipped in a neat ball into the box in the 75th minute but Holden was able to gather. The best chance of the game for Longford came three minutes later; Skelly with an excellent cross into the box but Bermingham directed his header wide.
Longford continued to apply pressure and in the 86th minute Holden brought off an excellent save to deny Salmon and keep his goal intact. Blues defender Stephen Mulcahy had to be alert to the danger in the 90th minute when he cleared Bermingham’s ball; it could’ve very easily have gone in.
Waterford very nearly came close to getting their third goal right at the end but substitute Darragh Walsh blasted Sean Maguire’s cross over the bar.
Longford Town: Craig Hyland; Noel Haverty, Willo McDonagh, Aiden Collins, Gary Cronin; Keith Gillespie (Daniel Purdy 79), Mark Salmon, Alan Kirby (Austin Skelly 66), Robert Bayly, Thomas Crawley; Tony Griffiths (Karl Bermingham 46).
Subs not used: Craig Walsh, Daragh Reynor, Chris Deans, Brian McNamara.
Bookings: Salmon (67), Cronin (90+1).
Waterford Utd: Packie Holden; Stephen Mulcahy, David Breen, Craig Burns, John Frost; Paul Phelan, Peter White, Gary Dempsey, Peter Higgins (Ben Ryan 77); Peter Keegan (Darragh Walsh 82), Sean Maguire.
Subs not used: Willie John Kiely, Jack Doherty, Conor Coad, Dylan Mernagh, Robbie Hughes.
Bookings: Frost (61).
Referee: Kevin O’Regan (Kerry).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Craig Burns (Waterford Utd).