Monday, 19th February 2018
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Waterford FC ready for return

to Premier League

Waterford FC 2 Shelbourne 2

Waterford FC and Shelbourne played out a four-goal pre-season friendly at the RSC on Friday night last as both sides continued preparation for their respective league campaigns this month. The Blues will play Derry City at the same venue this Friday and this will be the first time the local club will play a game in the top tier since 2007 when they were held to a scoreless draw by Galway United. This was their 5th warm up game before the big return and it would be fair to say it was not their best.

That said however there were some excellent displays by players such as Bastien Hery, Gavan Holohan and goalkeeper Matthew Connor. Manager Alan Reynolds admitted after the game that the team looked a little flat in the first half but he added that they did improve in the second period. The scene is now set for Friday and it will be a special occasion. The Candystripes will get a warm welcome from what will be a massive crowd. The excitement has been palpable ever since the fixtures were announced in January and it will reach fever pitch come Friday evening. The club staged their official 2018 launch at The Woodlands Hotel on Thursday night last and it was a case of standing room only as both young and old supporters snapped up the new home jersey and posed for photographs with the players. The majority of the young fans have never actually seen the team play in the Premier League so Friday's match will be completely new for them. The older supporters had more or less given up on a return to the top league and in fact like many they thought the club would go out of business completely two years ago but now it's a completely different story thanks to the investment of Lee Power. A decade of heratbreak will come to an end on Friday and it's going to be an evening to savour. A win over Derry would send everyone from the Deise home happy. The management have made it known that they are not in the league just to make up the numbers so hopefully a winning start will get this new era off to a flying start. The following week it's a visit to the double champions Cork City and that will be followed by another home game against St Patrick's Athletic on Monday, February 26th. However it's very much a case of first things first and everything is now in place for the vist of the men from The Brandywell. Waterford had a good early chance for the opener down their right side. Matthew Connor’s kick was flicked on by the head of Dean O’Halloran to Ismahil Akinade. He made a run down the right before squaring but the on-rushing Derek Daly couldn’t reach the driven cross. Sander Puri was next to threaten; his run from the middle opened space but he couldn’t find the target. Shelbourne had a chance of their own on 15 minutes. Dayle Rooney provided the curling cross that found the head of David O’Sullivan but it dropped wide of Connor’s near post. The visitors went even closer two minutes later. Gavan Boyne picked up possession just outside the Waterford penalty box and he forced Matthew Connor into a smart save to touch the ball onto the post. Shelbourne keeper Dean Delany was pulled off a great save after 25 minutes to keep the home side out. Dean O’Halloran’s whipped free kick from the left was met by the head of central defender David Webster but the netminder produced an excellent low save. Four minutes later Shelbourne took the lead. David Webster’s headed backpass was left short and James English nipped in. He rounded keeper Connor before seeing his effort deflected into the back of the net by Waterford defender John Kavanagh as he looked to clear. That lead was doubled just before half time. John Kavanagh fouled Rooney in the penalty area and David O’Sullivan made no mistake to make it 2-0 from the spot. But back came the home side as Dean O’Halloran intercepted an attempted backpass to Delany minutes later. He found Akinade and he put the ball through the legs of Delany to get the Blues on the scoresheet. A mistake from Blues defender Kenny Browne allowed David O’Sullivan a strike on goal in the second half but Matthew Connor was equto the effort, before Connor saved from Adam Evans’ effort minutes later. Waterford did level with 11 minutes left on the clock; Gavan Holohan picking the ball up 20 yards from goal and striking brilliantly low past Shels’ sub keeper Steacy to make it 2-2.

The Blues had chances to grab a winner in the final minutes but settled for a 2-2 draw in their final pre-season match. Now bring on Friday and a night hopefully that will live in the memory for a long time to come. For those who cannot for one reason get to the game WLR will be broadcasting the match live with commentary team of Matt Keane and Ray Scott. Waterford FC: Matthew Connor (Niall Corbet 62); John Kavanagh (Rory Feely 62), David Webster, Kenny Browne, Patrick McClean (Dylan Barnett); Dean O’Halloran (Dean Walsh 68), Bastien Hery, Sander Puri, Gavan Holohan, Derek Daly; Ismahil Akinade. Subs Not Used: Darryl Walsh, Shane Griffin, Shelbourne: Dean Delany (Lee Steacy 75); James Brown, David Mulcahy, Arran Molloy (Derek Prendergast HT), Lorcan Fitzgerald (James Woods 68); Adam Evans, Gavan Boyne (Cian Kavanagh 80), Mark Hughes (James O’Brien HT), Dayle Rooney (Dylan Grimes 73); James English (Jamie Doyle 73), David O’Sullivan Referee: Andrew Mullally. Assistants. Adam Tzampel and Michelle O'Neill.


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