Two Ben Ryan penalties gave Waterford United a deserved win over a depleted Cobh Ramblers side at St. Colman’s Park on Saturday night. Ramblers stay second bottom of the table and go into the mid-season break just two points ahead of basement side Salthill Devon and on a wretched league run that has seen them pick up just three points in their last eight games.
Ramblers were without Brian Fitzgerald and Andrew Bhandarkar through injury, while Conor Meade missed out through suspension so Brendan Frahill, James Carson and Davin O’Neill all came back into the starting 11. Waterford started the game full of confidence on the back of their impressive 3-0 win over Cork side Avondale United in the Munster Senior Cup final on Wednesday night and nearly opened the scoring twice in the opening minutes.
First, Ryan saw his header come back off the crossbar after a right wing cross from Peter Higgins and then Paul Quilty had a low drive well tipped wide by Robert Birdsall in the Ramblers goal.
After surviving the initial Waterford onslaught, Ramblers started to grow into the game and should have taken the lead in the 14th minute. The impressive Kynan Rocks released Martin Deady down the left and his whipped centre found Davin O’Neill unmarked in the box but the striker was unable to connect with his attempted volley and the chance was gone.
The game’s turning point came ten minutes later when Waterford could easily have gone down to ten men when last man Seamus Long brought Rocks down midway inside the Waterford half but, amazingly, referee Shane Dunphy booked Rocks for simulation.
After the busy opening period, neither side were able to get the upper hand as the game descended into a scrappy affair but Waterford managed to snatch the all-important first goal on 39 minutes.
The energetic Quilty had possession on the left side of the box and looked to be going nowhere when the slightest contact from Seán O’Mahony sent the striker sprawling and referee Shane Dunphy pointed to the spot much to the delight of the travelling supporters behind the goal.
Ryan stepped up to confidently drill the penalty into the bottom left corner to give the Blues a lead they held comfortably until the break.
Waterford sent on big target man, Darragh Walshe, who scored twice in the Munster Senior Cup final in midweek, for the second half to add more bulk to the Suirsiders attack and they started the second half well on top.
Ramblers were struggling to create any chances of note as they were unable to apply any sustained pressure on the visitors goal and the closest they came was through a Martin Deady free-kick from 40 yards but the winger’s well-disguised shot curled just wide with Waterford keeper Craig Hyland scrambling to get back on his line having anticipated a cross.
That was as good as it got for the hosts and Waterford’s win was secured 12 minutes from time when Gary Collins bundled over substitute Kevin O’Connor in the box and once again Ryan made no mistake with the penalty, this time sending Birdsall the wrong way as he slotted the ball into the right corner.
The visitors were reduced to ten men late on when Walshe was adjudged to have gone down too easily in the box and the striker was shown a second yellow but that was of little consequence as the Blues comfortably held on to condemn Ramblers to another defeat.
Referee: Shane Dunphy
Robert Birdsall, Sean O’Mahony, John Meade(C), Gary Collins, Brendan Frahill, James Carson(Jonathan Spillane,79), Martin Deady, Roy Kenny, Davin O’Neill, Kynan Rocks, Alan O’Flynn (Bobbi Donoghue, 63)
Unused subs: Dave Walsh, Jason Dunphy, Keith O’Flynn, Shane Hallahan
Craig Hyland, Conor Whittle, Michael Coady, Gavin Kavanagh, Seamus Long, Peter White, Ben Ryan(Francis Rockett,81), Conor Coad(Darragh Walshe,45), Paul Quilty (Kevin O’Connor,73), Vinny Sullivan(C), Peter Higgins
Unused Subs: Phillip Drohan, John Frost, Dylan Mernagh, Charles Sanders
Match Report by Sean Geary