Two goals from striker David McDaid weren’t enough for Waterford FC who fell to a 3-2 defeat against UCD at the UCD Bowl on Friday night.
A brace from Jason McClelland and a penalty from Greg Sloggett has the Students 3-0 in front, but a late surge saw the Blues almost snatch a point after McDaid’s double.
It was the hosts that created the first chance of the game on six minutes when Timmy Molloy sent in a free kick from the left side that found the head of Greg Sloggett but he couldn’t direct his header from six yards on target as the ball went wide of the far post.
The home side took the lead through a deflected effort on 13 minutes when left-wing Jason McClelland took possession of the ball 25-yards from goal and his first-time strike hit a Blues player that saw the ball wrongfoot keeper Matthew Connor.
With the Blues failing to trouble UCD keeper Niall Corbett for most of the half, they nearly levelled the tie on 44 minutes when Derek Daly picked up the ball on the right-side but his cracking left-footed strike whistled inches wide of the near post with the netminder beaten.
UCD had a chance to double their lead with three minutes played in the second half when Georgie Kelly laid the perfect pass into the path of Daire O’Connor but he fired a left-footed shot over Matthew Connor’s crossbar from 16 yards.
The Students doubled their lead with 51 minutes on the clock when Jason McClelland took a pass from Greg Sloggett 25-yards from goal and he beat keeper Matthew Connor with a left-footed strike that found the bottom left-corner of the net.
With UCD well on top at this stage in the game, they created another big chance to increase their lead on 59 minutes when Daire O’Connor raced onto a flicked pass from Georgie Kelly but his shot was just inches over the crossbar.
It got even worse for the Blues from the penalty spot with 70 minutes played when UCD target man Georgie Kelly went to ground under a challenge from behind from Kenny Browne and referee Lynch pointed straight to the spot with Greg Sloggett hammering the spot kick to the roof of the net.
Shane O’Connor nearly pulled a goal back seconds later when the full back got on the end of a right-wing delivery from Kenny McEvoy but his thunderous left-footed strike at the back post was superbly tipped onto the post by netminder Niall Corbett.
The Blues did get a goal back five minutes later when the ball broke to Dean Walsh out on the right-side of the penalty area and after his shot took a deflection, David McDaid fired the ball home at the back post to give the Blues a slight lifeline.
McDaid turned the game on its head with his second goal of the game with 81 minutes on the clock when the centre forward fended off two challenges before cutting in from the right-side and drilling a low right-footed shot under the body of keeper Niall Corbett.
Despite the Blues throwing everything at their hosts in the final nine minutes and the five added minutes that followed, they couldn’t breach Corbett’s goal for a third time as UCD held out for a 3-2 success but Waterford still remain top of the league table.
UCD: Niall Corbett, Josh Collins (Sean Coyne `84), Evan Osam, Liam Scales, Maxi Kouogun, Greg Sloggett, Dan Tobin, Timmy Molloy, Georgie Kelly, Daire O’Connor (Cian Kavanagh `84), Jason McClelland
WATERFORD FC: Matthew Connor, Robin Dempsey, Kenny Browne, Patrick McClean, Derek Daly, Anthony McAlavey, Garry Comerford (Kenny McEvoy `67), Shane O’Connor, David McDaid, Mark O’Sullivan (Dean Walsh `71), John Martin (Gary Delaney `83)
Referee: Marc Lynch