Shamrock Rovers returned to winning-ways, with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Waterford FC at the RSC.
Waterford came into the game against the reigning league champions with a stunning 3-1 victory up in Oriel Park last Friday. Marc Bircham made one change to his side from that win, with Eric Molloy coming into the side in place of the injured Kyle Ferguson.
Stephen Bradley also made one change to his side from last weekend’s disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Finn Harps. Graham Burke returned to the starting-eleven in place of Gary O’Neill, who dropped to the bench.
Waterford couldn’t have dreamt of a better start, going ahead with just 6 minutes on the clock. Eric Molloy received the ball on the left-wing, and beat Sean Gannon before his effort slightly deflected off Sean Hoare and flew past the hopeless Alan Mannus in the Rovers net. Molloy made sure to keep the 200 Blues fans in attendance satisfied with an impressive front-flip celebration.
Rovers threatened Brian Murphy in the Waterford goal with half-chances falling to Graham Burke & Rory Gaffney shortly after Molloy’s opener. But the visitor’s equalised on 13 minutes through a Graham Burke penalty. Sean Gannon found space down the right-wing, and Jamie Mascoll was adjudged to have handled Gannon’s cross inside the 18-yard box and referee Adriano Reale pointed straight to the spot.
Despite diving the right-way, Brian Murphy couldn’t get a hand on Burke’s penalty into the bottom right-hand corner, as the former Preston man levelled the scoring at the RSC.
Shortly before half-time, Chris McCann appeared to have stamped on Prince Mutswunguma after the Rovers man fouled the Waterford attacker in the middle of the pitch. However, referee Reale failed to produce any card to McCann, much to the annoyance of the Waterford supporters in the Main Stand.
Both sides exchanged chances up until half-time, but neither side could find that important goal before the interval.
Rovers took the lead just three minutes into the second-half, after Rory Gaffney pounced on a Cameron Evans defensive error, before cooly slotting past Brian Murphy in off the far-post to net his sixth league goal of the season for The Hoops.
On the hour-mark, Graham Burke extended the lead for Shamrock Rovers, tapping-home inside the six-yard box after some good hold-up play by Aaron Greene down the right-hand channel.
Rovers made it 4-1 on the 68th minute, with a well-worked team goal. Alan Mannus hit long to Aaron Greene who played a neat one-two with the Tuam native, before Greene calmly slotted past Brian Murphy inside the Waterford 18-yard box to pile on the misery to the hosts.
Both sides gave minutes to their younger players on their respective benches inside the final 20 minutes. Liam Kervick & Katlego Mashigo came off the Waterford bench, while Darragh Nugent, Aidomo Emakhu & Dean Williams all got some minutes into their legs for Stephen Bradley’s side.
Rovers saw out the remaining minutes of the game, and remain three points clear at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division. As for the hosts, they remain in ninth place, just a sole point ahead of Longford Town at the foot of the Premier Division table.
It’s a quick turn-around for both sides, with another round of fixtures being played on Monday night. Waterford travel to the midlands for a huge game against Longford Town at Bishopsgate, while Shamrock Rovers make the short trip across the Liffey river to take on arch-rivals Bohemians in the latest Dublin Derby encounter. Both games are a 7:45pm and will be broadcast live on Loitv.ie.
Waterford FC: 1. Brian Murphy; 2. Darragh Power, 3. Cameron Evans (70′ Tunmise Sobowale), 19. Jack Stafford, 15. Jamie Mascoll; 7. Shane Griffin, 8. Adam O’Reilly (78′ Katlego Mashigo), 14. Niall O’Keeffe (C); 23. Prince Mutswunguma (70′ Liam Kervick), 12. John Martin, 20. Eric Molloy.
Shamrock Rovers: 1. Alan Mannus; 3. Sean Hoare, 4. Roberto Lopes (C), 5. Lee Grace (70′ Darragh Nugent); 2. Sean Gannon, 14. Danny Mandroiu, 26. Chris McCann (60′ Ronan Finn), 15. Liam Scales; 10. Graham Burke (60′ Gary O’Neill), 9. Aaron Greene (70′ Aidomo Emakhu), 20. Rory Gaffney (70′ Dean Williams).