Report by: Rachael McKeon
On Friday evening Longford Town were the visitors to the RSC in Waterford where they were looking to extend their lead at the top of the Airtricity League First Division and to keep their unbeaten away run going. As the game began there seemed to be a nervy feel amongst the 700 or so supporters in attendance and this seemed to have affected the players somewhat as it took some time for this game to get going.
When it did it was the home side that had the first chance of note when Phelan had a shot from just inside the box which was well saved by an alert Hyland in the Town goal. Longford began to take control of matters as the half went on but were finding the Blues defence a hard nut to crack. Waterford were finding Shaw a hand full and indeed he was unlucky not to open the scoring on 30 minutes when he had a shot saved by Holden in the home goal. This was to be the last chance of note in the first half and unfortunately for Longford Town Shaw had to be replaced after he picked up an injury following a tackle in the 42nd minute. The teams went in level at the break after what had been a lack lustre first half.
As the second half began it was the home side that took the game to their visitors and in the first 10 minutes Town keeper Hyland and central defenders Hope and Flood were in top form to stop Waterford’s advances. On the hour mark the Town began to look dangerous themselves and after a succession of corners the visitors opened the scoring. On 66 minutes Gillespie played one of his now trademark corners into the box that wasn’t dealt with by the home defence and Skelly drilled the ball goal ward, the ball was cleared by a Blues defender but the linesman flagged that it had crossed the line to break the deadlock. From here on the game opened up but there was little in the way of goal scoring opportunities until the final ten minutes. Waterford pushed an extra man forward in search of an equaliser but both Phelan and Maguire were denied by some great goalkeeping by Hyland in the Town goal. On 82 minutes the Town made a change when the hard working but now tiring Duffy was replaced by Michael Lee. This change was to prove fruitful when on 90 minutes Lee received the ball just inside the Waterford half and despite the close attention of Mc Grath made his way inside the home sides box and even though he seemed to be pulled back by the defender he managed to poke the ball past the out coming keeper and seal the win for the table toppers and also keep their unbeaten away record intact.
Next up for League leaders Longford Town is the visit of SD Galway to Flancare Park on Friday evening with a 7.45pm kick off.
Waterford United: Packie Holden, Paul Carey, Craig Burns, Seamus Long, John Frost (Aidan McGrath 75), Ben Ryan (Dylan Mernagh 87), Peter White, Gary Dempsey, Paul Phelan, Sean Maguire, Peter Keegan.
Subs: Robbie Hughes, David Breen, Peter Higgins, Gary Dunphy, Gary Keane.
Longford Town: Craig Hyland, Noel Haverty, Thomas Crawley, Des Hope, Jeff Flood, Alan Kirby, Keith Gillespie, Mark Salmon, Karl Bermingham, Gary Shaw (Austin Skelly 42), Jamie Duffy (Michael Lee 82).
Subs: Paul Hunt, Chris Deans, James O’Brien, Sean Skelly, Daniel Purdy.
Goals: A Skelly 66, Lee 90.
Referee: Keith Callanan (Cork)