Waterford 1-0 Rovers – Report

Sligo Rovers were narrowly beaten by Waterford at the RSC on Friday night.

With the Blues uncertain as to whether fourth spot in the Premier Division will secure them European football, they put maximum pressure on the Hoops ahead of their trip to the Brandywell on Saturday, with a first-half Sander Puri goal seeing them past the Bit o’ Red.

The home side were unchanged from last week’s 2-0 victory over bottom-side Bray Wanderers while Gerard Lyttle made five switches from starting eleven in the loss to St Patrick’s Athletic, with captain Rhys McCabe, veteran Raffaele Cretaro and goalkeeper Ed McGinty all coming in.

Neither side set the tone from the beginning, an ambitious Mikey Drennan effort comfortably swerved into Niall Corbet’s arms in the opening 15 minutes, before Waterford opened the scoring.

Noel Hunt had drifted out onto the right sideline and having collected a Rory Feely pass, sped beyond John Mahon before drilling in a low cross. The delivery was perfect for Sander Puri’s run towards the penalty spot and the Estonian international’s sweet finish to the bottom corner had the 1,600 home fans on their feet.

As the half progressed it was the home side who looked the most likely to add to the score sheet. Feely set up Blues captain Paul Keegan after the visitors failed to clear an Aborah corner but there were too many bodies between him and the goal, with McGinty collecting his side-footed effort.

Cretaro dragged a 30-yard shot wide after Lee Lynch found him in space and Reynolds’ men spurned the chance to double the lead shortly afterwards.

The energetic Galvin led a counter attack following a Sligo corner but his run drifted towards Puri and reduced the space for the goalscorer who, having received the ball, could only curl his effort at the goalkeeper.

A deflected Galvin effort blazed into the side netting at the start of the second half after the summer signing jinked into space while Drennan was frustrated he couldn’t get a shot away following a floated diagonal from the left which reached him in the centre of the box.

Rovers became more composed on the ball as the half progressed but failed to test Corbet and their challenge was made even more difficult when McCabe was injured after a Hunt tackle, with Lyttle’s three substitutes already used.

Aborah almost put the result beyond doubt in the 82nd minute when his curling 25-yard free kick caught the inside of McGinty’s post and the depleted away side couldn’t carve out the chance of an equaliser before Ben Connolly’s final whistle in the 96th minute.

Waterford FC: Niall Corbet; Noe Baba, Kenny Browne, Garry Comerford, Dylan Barnett; Stanley Aborah, Paul Keegan (C); Rory Feely, Cory Galvin (Hery, 60), Sander Puri; Noel Hunt (Akinade, 85).

Substitutes: Matthew Connor (GK), Gavan Hohohan, Dean O’Halloran, Dessie Hutchinson, Bastien Hery, Izzy Akinade, Carlos Wilson.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Kyle Callan-McFadden, John Mahon, Paddy McClean, Regan Donelon (Sharkey, 53); Jack Keaney, Rhys McCabe (C); Kris Twardek (Wixted, 72), Lee Lynch; Raffaele Cretaro (McAleer, 64); Mikey Drennan.

Substitutes: Mitchell Beeney (GK), Seamus Sharkey, Caolin McAleer, Adam Wixted, Lima Kerrigan, Niall Morahan, Lewis Morrison.