A dominant second half performance that yielded goals from Patrick McClean and the impressive Tom Smith gave Waterford FC back to back victories in the SSE Airtricity League First Division after getting the better of UCD 2-0 at the UCD Bowl on Friday night.
The Blues management made two changes to the side that defeated Cabinteely on the previous Friday night for the trip to take on the league leaders with Shane O’Connor and Garry Comerford coming into the starting eleven.
UCD goalkeeper Niall Corbet produced a stunning save to deny the Blues the lead goal on two minutes when Shane O’Connor sent in a corner kick from the right to the near post that broke to Patrick McClean but his first-time shot was superbly kept out.
The Blues had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Adriano Reale on nine minutes when Kenny McEvoy controlled a ball from McClean out on the right before getting past Jason McClelland but after going to ground under a challenge from the UCD player, the match official was unmoved.
There was another half chance for the Blues on 16 minutes when Garry Comerford’s long ball saw David McDaid in a race with UCD keeper Niall Corbet but after the latter headed the ball straight to the striker, he failed to hook the ball over the netminder.
UCD had their first chance of note four minutes later when Cian Kavanagh was fouled on the right side of the penalty area but Jason McClelland’s effort failed to beat Ian McLoughlin at his near post before Kavanagh fired a shot from 30 yards over the bar on 23 minutes.
Kenny Browne picked up a yellow card for a late challenge five minutes later as the remainder of the first half was littered with free kicks to the hosts with the Blues awarded their first of just one first half free on 37 minutes.
The Blues took the game to their hosts from the opening whistle of the second half with Kenny McEvoy getting onto a pass from Dave Mulcahy down the right channel on 50 minutes but UCD keeper Corbet got a vital hand on his teasing cross to the back post.
Swindon loanee Tom Smith carved out a great chance when he showed his class four minutes later when he took a pass from McEvoy and after getting into the penalty area, his effort was kept out by Corbet.
With the Blues on the front foot at this stage, it took a stunning save on the hour mark to deny David McDaid as he latched onto a brilliant ball from McEvoy and after getting past Liam Scales, his cracking effort was tipped over by Corbet.
From the resulting corner kick, Shane O’Connor sent in a corner kick from the right that was punched up into the air by the home netminder and it was Patrick McClean who rose highest to head the ball into the corner of the net from six yards.
Although the home side did force a number of corner kicks, they failed to trouble Blues keeper Ian McLoughlin and the Blues put the game to bed with five minutes remaining on the clock. David McDaid slipped the ball into the path of the impressive Tom Smith on the left side of the area and he drilled the ball past a helpless Niall Corbet.
It was a first League of Ireland goal for midfield Smith and a goal that ensured all three points that had the large number of travelling Waterford FC fans setting out on the trip back to the South-East in great form.
UCD: Niall Corbet, Daniel Tobin, Evan Osam, Liam Scales, Maxi Kouogun, Greg Sloggett, Robert Manley (Neil Farrugia 71), Gary O’Neill, Georgie Kelly, Cian Kavanagh (Daire O’Connor 71), Jason McClelland (Ben Hanrahan 80).
Waterford FC: Ian McLoughlin, Tom Smith (Robin Dempsey 90), Dave Mulcahy, Patrick McClean, Shane O’Connor, David McDaid (Dean Walsh 88), Kenny McEvoy (Dean O’Halloran 76), Sander Puri, Garry Comerford, Anthony McAlavey.
Referee: Adriano Reale (Kildare)
(Image credit: Extratime.ie)