Dundalk send Blues crashing out of the EA SPORTS Cup
With a place in the EA SPORTS Cup semi-final at stake it was a nervy and quiet opening to affairs at Oriel Park with Dundalk enjoying the better of the possession for the opening 15 minutes. Despite seeing more of the ball however, the home side failed to test Matthew Connor in the Blues goal.
On 18’ Dundalk did when a free kick for handball on the edge of the area but John Mountney’s attempt at goal was blocked and cleared before the Blues went up the other end and began to get on top.
On 21’ former Blues centre-half Paddy Barrett was booked for taking down Anthony McAlavey after good build play by the Waterford midfield. From the resultant free-kick Conor Clifford was also added to the referee’s notebook for encroachment. After resetting the wall both Jake Evans and Derek Daly stood over it, Daly attempted a shot on goal but his effort sailed over the crossbar.
The Blues were beginning to settle into playing on the artificial surface and but for some excellent defending from Niclas Vemmelund, Swindon loanees Evans and Tom Smith almost combined to put Smith clear on goal on 27’ but Dundalk’s Danish defender made a crucial intervention before sending Kinsella clear up the other end, the winger shaped to shoot but sent his effort wide from distance.
Kenny McEvoy was next to test the Dundalk rearguard with the winger breaking down the right flank on 31’ before Dundalk left-back Dane Massey ushered the ball out for corner. Derek Daly looked to find Shane O’Connor deep off the resultant corner but Dundalk safely saw the ball out of play for a goal-kick.
Dundalk did go close minutes later. Ciaran Kilduff managed to put Massey through on goal after a good advantage from referee Neil Doyle but the defender’s shot went narrowly wide of the upright.
With the game edging towards half-time, a decent run from John Mountney down the right caused problems in the Blues defence but his chipped effort was deflected over for a corner. Whilst the initial corner came to nothing, Dundalk followed up two more in short succession but they failed to test the Blues defence with an offside eventually given by the linesman.
On the stroke of half-time, Dundalk were to go close once more as David Mulcahy’s headed clearance resulted in Clifford hitting a dipped half volley for Dundalk but the Blues defence were pleased to see it drift over the bar.
HALF TIME 0-0
The Blues started the second half brightly. After good build up play between Smith and McAlavey in midfield, U19 right-back Jack Lynch got forward well and struck an effort from distance that dipped narrowly over the cross bar before shortly after Smith made a good break through the middle only to have his attempt on target blocked by a Dundalk defender.
On 54’ Dundalk caused some panic in the Waterford defence. Kinsella was brought down 30 yards out after a foul from Lynch. From the resultant free taken by Massey, a goalmouth scramble ensued but somehow the Blues managed to keep the pressure on and eventually won a goal-kick.
Dundalk introduced Michael Duffy for U19 defender Keith Dalton on 55’ and the NI International had an immediate impact. Two minutes after his introduction, following good work down the left flank, his deep ball was picked up by Kinsella on the right. The winger in turn crossed into the box where Kilduff powerfully headed into the roof of the net after getting the better of David Mulcahy.
Waterford reacted well, continuing to pose questions, winning a corner up the other end before a long throw also caused problems in the Dundalk defence. Kenny McEvoy and David McDaid were withdrawn with the fresh legs of Garry Comerford and Mark O’Sullivan injecting some threat into the Blues side as they went in search of the equaliser.
It was Dundalk though who were next to threaten on 67’. Thomas Stewart and Dane Massey combined in the box for the home side but Matthew Connor made a fine save to keep the Blues in the tie.
Stewart was to come back to haunt the Blues defence as Dundalk scored a killer second goal on 72’. Again Waterford failed to deal with a deep cross in from the right flank from Kinsella, this time his excellent delivery was headed back across the box by Kilduff with Connor scrambling, Stewart was left un-marked to direct ball home from close range.
2-0 down and chasing the game, the Waterford bench rang an attacking switch to try and salvage the tie with Anthony McAlavey withdrawn for Dean Walsh on 75’.
Dundalk goalkeeper Gabriel Sava had to be alert two minutes later after midfielder Tom Smith found space to fire off a dipping strike from distance that the shot-stopper brilliantly tipped over the bar. Daly’s corner caused some panic in the Lilywhites defence but eventually it was safely seen out for a goal-kick.
Game, set and match on 79’. Having failed to close down a quick throw from Dundalk, a brilliant third was added by the League of Ireland champions as Conor Clifford gave Matthew Connor no chance with a thunderous strike from outside the area that ended up in the top corner of the net.
With some tired bodies in the Blues ranks, and Dundalk content to sit on their comfortable lead the game’s tempo dropped off in the closing stages before Neil Doyle brought a close to the game following two minutes of additional time.
WATERFORD FC: Matthew Connor; Jack Lynch – David Mulcahy – Patrick McClean – Derek Daly; Kenny McEvoy (Garry Comerford 64’) – Tom Smith – Jake Evans – Anthony McAlavey (Dean Walsh 75’); Shane O’Connor; David McDaid (Mark O’Sullivan 64’).
Unused Subs: Matthew Sheehan, Gary Delaney, Owen Wall, John Martin
DUNDALK FC: Gabriel Sava; Keith Dalton (Michael Duffy 55’) – Niclas Vemmelund – Paddy Barrett – Dane Massey; Conor Clifford – Chris Shields (Sean Hoare 80’); John Mountney – Thomas Stewart – Steven Kinsella (Jamie McGrath 83’); Ciaran Kilduff
Unused Subs: Ben Kelly, Emmet Hughes, Jake O’Connor, Jack O’Keefe
REFEREE: Neil Doyle (Dublin)