On Friday evening at the UCD Bowl, UCD ended a run of two consecutive defeats against Waterford United as two penalties from skipper Gary O’Neill gave the Students a 2-1 victory.
After an impressive victory seven days earlier against Cabinteely, UCD were looking to continue their momentum and they were almost gifted a dream start inside the opening 40 seconds. Ryan Swan's low delivery found Jack Watson unmarked on the edge of the six yard box, but the midfielder, who replaced Daire O’Connor in the starting line-up, blazed over from close range.
The Students opened the scoring in the tenth minute when Watson was brought down close to goal by Alan Byrne and referee John McLoughlin sent the defender off on his debut before O’Neill duly dispatched the spot-kick
Despite being down to ten men after Byrne’s red card, Waterford attempted to respond minutes later, but James O’Brien failed to trouble Niall Corbet with his long range effort.
As UCD continued to press forward in search of a second goal, both O’Neill and Cathal Brady had efforts easily claimed by Blues goalkeeper Mathew Sheehan.
With the visitors’ chances in the first period limited, Philip Gorman will feel he should have done better with his low shot from distance nine minutes before the break. However, less than 60 seconds later the forward almost equalised after he rose highest to meet an Ian Sinnott corner, but the UCD goalkeeper pulled off an excellent low saw to deny the Waterford man.
When the sides returned from the break, O’Neill and Watson combined for the half's first chance when the former picked out the latter from a free-kick, but Watson failed to direct his effort on target from 18 yards.
Soon after, UCD almost doubled their advantage when Maxi Kouogun’s headed effort was cleared off the line after Sheehan had lost his footing while trying to claim possession.
With little over 25 minutes remaining, Waterford had another excellent chance to equalise after Gorman peeled off Kouogun at the back post, but he failed to direct a Roddy Collins Jr cross towards goal.
UCD doubled their advantage six minutes later when David O’Leary brought down Kieran Marty Waters inside the penalty area. For the second time in the game, O’Neill calmly slotted past Sheehan for his tenth league goal of the season.
As the Students continued to press forward, Kouogun was next to try his luck after he found himself unmarked at the back post from an O’Neill corner, but he failed to find the target from close range.
UCD did in fact have the ball in the net for the third time in the 77th minute when Ryan Swan fired home from close range, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
With time running out for the Blues, Cory Evans forced a smart save from Corbet after he was allowed to race through the middle of the field before striking from 25 yards.
However, Waterford grabbed what proved to be a consolation goal when Gorman fired home the third spot kick of the game in stoppage time after Kouogun was penalised for handball.
It was too little too late for Roddy Collins' men, with the win for UCD ensuring they remain second in the First Division table, one point clear of Drogheda United. Waterford United, meanwhile, remain in sixth place behind Shelbourne on goal difference, with the Reds in action against Cabinteely on Saturday.
UCD AFC: Niall Corbet; Adam Harney, Maxi Kouogun, Liam Scales, Mark Langtry; Cathal Brady, Greg Sloggett, Gary O’Neill, Jack Watson (Daire O’Connor 67), Kieran Marty Waters; Ryan Swan.
Subs Not Used: Conor O’Donnell, Sean Coyne, Tomas Boyle, Dan Tobin, Georgie Kelly. Jason Byrne.
Booked: Greg Sloggett (50).
Waterford United: Matthew Sheehan; Roddy Collins, Ian Sinnott, Alan Byrne, Sean Byrne; James O’Brien (Anthony McAlavey 51), Robert Bayley, David O’Leary, Sean Byrne (Owen Wall HT), Cory Galvin; Philip Gorman.
Subs Not Used: Kevin Burns, Robert Buckley, Dylan McGuire, Dean Walsh, Osasere David Eohe Ohenhen.
Booked: James O’Brien (47).
Red Card: Alan Byrne (10).
Referee: John McLoughlin.
Attendance: 180 (est).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Gary O’Neill (UCD AFC).