Thursday, 22nd March 2018
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A star is born as Blues rattle in six

A young player who stepped up from the Under 19 team three weeks ago scored a hat-trick on Friday night last at the Athlone Stadium as Waterford FC defeated a hapless home team who are now managed by Waterford's last boss, Roddy Collins. John Martin who made his debut against Longford Town in the middle of May has burst on to the scene with incredible ease and he scored a hat-trick in this one sided contest and the Waterford fans who made the journey to the midlands went home purring with excitement after watching this bright new youngster. Apart from his goals, his vision and passing were superb and there is no doubt that he is going to be a major figure during the remainder of the campaign. The Blues remain two points clear from Cobh Ramblers on the league table and four clear of third placed UCD.

The Blues created a good chance to get their noses in front on seven minutes when Garry Comerford sprayed the ball out to the right channel for Derek Daly but his cracking left-footed effort went narrowly wide of Igors Labuts far post.

John Martin was celebrating his first goal in a Waterford jersey less than sixty seconds later when Kenny Browne picked up David McDaid, who did well to turn provider for the Under 19 player to drill a left-footed shot past Labuts from 12 yards.

After McDaid and Daly went close to increasing the Blues lead on 12 minutes, it was the hosts that could have levelled the tie on 15 minutes when Jose Viegas whipped in a free kick from the right that found the head of Colm Coss at the back post but his header was inches wide of the target.

It was Martin that was doubled the lead for Waterford on 18 minutes when a long clearance from Blues keeper Matthew Connor was magnificently touched on by Mark O'Sullivan into the path of the attacker and he beat Igor Labuts with a right-footed shot from 12 yards.

Blues keeper Matthew Connor produced a fantastic save to deny Athlone a goal on 27 minutes when Jason Molloy fed the ball into the path of Jason Lyons on the right-side of the area but his stinging right-footed strike was superbly tipped around the posts.

The home side missed another great chance to get a goal back two minutes later when Jose Viegas got space down the left-channel to cross into the six-yard box for striker Walter Invernizzi, who got free a header on the ball but his effort flashed over the bar.

A third Waterford goal arrived in a dominant first half performance on 37 minutes when some piece of amazing skill from Anthony McAlavey saw the midfielder play the ball behind the Athlone defence with the outside of his right foot to set up Mark O'Sullivan, who took the ball past Igors Labuts to slot to an empty net.

With less than a minute played in the second half, the Blues nearly scored a stunning fourth goal when central defender Kenny Browne saw Athlone keeper Igors Labuts off his line but the netminder just got back to keep out his lob from 40 yards.

It wasn't long before the Blues faithful were celebrating a fourth goal that arrived on 50 minutes when Garry Comerford played the ball down the left channel for Mark O'Sullivan and after Athlone defender Joe Dwyer directed his cross towards his own net, David McDaid tapped home from a yard.

The night belonged to John Martin as he completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot when Derek Daly was pulled down in the penalty area on 61 minutes by defender David Brookes and Martin drilled the spot kick past a helpless Igors Labuts.

After Matthew Connor made two excellent saves to keep out shots from Jason Lyons and Walter Invernizzi, it was the latter that struck the crossbar with a header before eventually finding the net in the final minute when he touched home a right-wing cross from Jason Lyons.

It was the Blues that had the final laugh four minutes into second half injury time when David McDaid split the Athlone defence with a magnificent through ball that sent Dean Walsh into the clear and after he rounded the hapless Igors Labuts, he fired to the back of an unguarded net.

ATHLONE TOWN: Igors Labuts, Niall Scullion, David Brookes, Joe Dwyer (Ethan Keogh `59), Kiril Grigorovs, Conor Barry (Ryan Gaffney `73), Jason Molloy (Dragos Sfrijan `46), Colm Coss, Walter Invernizzi, Jason Lyons, Jose Viegas

WATERFORD FC: Matthew Connor, Conor Whittle, Kenny Browne, Patrick McClean, Shane O'Connor, Garry Comerford, John Martin (Gary Delaney `76), Anthony McAlavey, Derek Daly (Kenny McEvoy `69), Mark O'Sullivan (Dean Walsh `53), David McDaid

Referee: David Keeler (Cork)

Kenny Browne praises John Martin

Waterford FC central defender Kenny Browne was loud in his praise of John Martin when he spoke after the game. `It was nice to get six goals and in all honesty we could have scored ten. We were amazing going forward. We let them have a few chances because at times we were not at our best at the back at times but maybe that is nick picking a little bit. John Martin has been a breath of fresh air for us. The timing of his runs and his passing are amazing and we will have to take care of him from now on. He is the type of player we have been crying out for, a strong goalscoring midfielder who is also brilliant in the air. He has given the team a new dimension. The break has come at the right time because when Sander Puri, Dave Mulcahy and Dean O'Halloran return from injury we will have a really strong squad once again''.


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