Waterford FC got their 2018 pre-season campaign off to a winning start as a brilliant overhead kick from Dean Walsh gave the Blues a 1-0 success over a Tramore side that caused problems throughout this contest played in blizzard like conditions at Graun Park on Tuesday night last.
Walsh scored the only goal of the contest with 16 first half minutes on the clock when he superbly executed Rory Feely’s right-wing cross past a helpless Tramore netminder Craig Dunphy in what proved to be the difference between the sides at the final whistle.
Played in Baltic conditions at the seaside venue, this game gave Blues’ supporters their first opportunity to catch a glimpse of many of the new signings as well as a number of trialists for the first time and overall they would have been pleased with what they saw.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic during the course of the ninety minutes as Tramore, who are in the middle of a Waterford Premier League campaign, created the first chance on six minutes when Emmet Johnson raced clear on goal to meet a Stephen Grant pass but Matthew Connor came off his line to make a smart save.
The only goal arrived ten minutes later when new signing Rory Feely, who was returning to home turf for the first time since leaving in 2007, crossed from the right to find Dean Walsh in the box who beat Dunphy with a magnificent overhead kick from ten yards.
It was Walsh that could have doubled the Blues lead soon after when he got on the end of another Feely delivery but the attacker headed over the bar before Gavan Holohan got free down the right channel on 35 minutes however keeper Dunphy cut out the danger at his near post.
Stephen Grant had a chance to level the tie for Tramore sixty seconds later when he raced clear to get on the end of a through ball from Emmet Johnson but his effort from the edge of the penalty area saw Matthew Connor get a strong hand to the ball to keep it out.
Gavan Holohan had the final chance of the first half on 41 minutes when the midfielder got his head on the end of a Rory Feely cross from the right but he couldn’t direct his effort on target as the ball went wide of the back post.
HALF TIME 0-1
Waterford made ten changes to their side at the half time break with players such as Patrick McClean, Izzy Akinade, Bastien Héry and Sander Puri entering the fray while new goalkeeper Niall Corbet replaced Matthew Connor between the sticks.
With the snow falling more heavily on the Graun Park surface, Izzy Akinade did go close to scoring his first goal for the club on 61 minutes as he got on the end of a John Kavanagh right-wing cross but Tramore keeper Dan Morrissey was equal to the task saving from close range.
It was Morrissey that was forced into making a smart save to keep out a sweet strike from Shane Griffin sixty seconds later before Blues goalkeeper Niall Corbet showed his worth at the other end on 65 minutes when superbly turning a cracking effort from Niall Kennedy around the posts after he took a pass from Dean Kennedy.
Colm Whelan was next to go close from a John Kavanagh cross for Waterford soon afterwards but his effort took a deflection off Kennedy that saw Tramore keeper Dan Morrissey do really well to claw the ball over the crossbar for a corner kick.
Sean Darcy went agonisingly close to levelling the tie for the seaside outfit on 74 minutes when the second half substitute got free inside the penalty area but despite bringing the ball onto his right-foot, his shot came crashing back of the right-hand post with keeper Corbet beaten in what turned out to be the final chance.
TRAMORE AFC: Craig Dunphy, Glenn Hawe, Leigh Quilty, Michael Caulfield, Eoin Nolan, Dean Kennedy, Jack Larkin, Stephen Grant, Emmet Johnson, Dean Noblett, Jack Maher, Niall Kennedy, Conor McGough, Sean Darcy, David Whelan, Ben Breslin, David Breen, Dan Morrissey
WATERFORD FC: Matthew Connor, Rory Feely, David Webster, Trialist A, Darryl Walsh, Paul Keegan, Gavan Holohan, Trialist B, Dean O’Halloran, Derek Daly, Dean Walsh. Second half: Niall Corbet, John Kavanagh, Trialist C, Patrick McClean, Bastien Héry, Sander Puri, Trialist C, Colm Whelan, Tunmise Sobowale, Shane Griffin, Izzy Akinade
Referee: Andrew Mullally assisted by Gary Fitzgerald and Richie Brazil
Attendance: 210 (Estimate)