Dundalk go back to top spot after comfortable victory
Round-up: Waterford claim vital win in Derry; Cretaro cracker seals Sligo success
Dundalk’s Robbie Benson celebrates scoring his side’s second goal in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match against Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Bray Wanderers 1 Dundalk 3
Despite momentarily allowing basement side Bray Wanderers back into the game, Dundalk’s class told as they reclaimed top spot in the Premier League from Cork City.
Stephen Kenny’s side were two goals to the good within the opening half hour, courtesy of Pat Hoban’s 23rd of the season and a Robbie Benson tap-in before Jake Kelly reduced the arrears three minutes into the second half. Normal order was restored 15 minutes from the end when substitute Dylan Connolly scored against his former club.
Bray boss Gary Cronin, taking charge of his first league match, was dealt a blow even before kick-off when an injury suffered by Evan Moran meant a debut in goal for Enda Minogue. The 17-year-old pulled off an early save from Hoban but was helpless to prevent the league’s top scorer looping a header over his header on 17 minutes.
Jamie McGrath teed up that chance and produced another assist for the second 10 minutes later. His corner was nodded down by the Brian Gartland to the unmarked Benson, who swept the ball home from close range.
Kelly availed of a underhit back-pass by Chris Shields to get the Seagulls back into the contest but they were unable to extend Dundalk, leading to Hoban crossing for Connolly to slide in with the third.
BRAY WANDERERS: Minogue; Harding, Kenna, Heaney, Lynch; Gorman, O’Conor; Mamalgia (Noone, 73 mins), J Kelly, O’Gorman (Ellis, 81 mins); Pender.
DUNDALK: Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Cleary, Massey; Shields, Benson; McGrath (Connolly, 46 mins), McEleney (Murray, 60 mins), Duffy; Hoban (G Kelly, 83 mins).
Referee: Damien McGrath (Mayo).
Derry City 1 Waterford United 2
A timely goal on the stroke of half-time fashioned this vital win for Waterford at the Brandywell as they went four points clear in third spot.
And while that strike will have changed Alan Reynolds’s half-time team-talk, it was a deserved victory overall, Derry struggling in the final third while Waterford could have won by more but for the alertness and agility of Derry goalkeeper Ger Doherty.
Having dominated the early stages, the Blues got off to the perfect start when breaking the deadlock in the ninth minute thanks to a slick passing move.
Derry, however, finally got into their stride and they did well to restore equality as the game approached the half an hour mark.
Rory Hale’s low teasing cross into the danger area was not dealt with by the Waterford defence and when the ball found its way into the path of the unmarked Dean Shiels, he passed it into the net from 10 yards.
Hunt curled a free-kick into the side netting in the 36th minute and Izzy Akinade could have done better when through but he opted to pass rather than shoot and the chance was lost.
However, disaster struck the home lot on the stroke of half-time when their failure to work the ball forward proved costly.
Derry were punished for losing possession at a vital stage and when Gavan Holohan drove forward on the left flank his low shot crept inside Doherty’s upright to silence the home attendance.
Following the change of ends, Derry depended heavily on the alertness and agility of their captain Doherty who kept them in the game with a series of top-drawer saves.
Hunt should have put the game to bed in the 76th minute but his free header following a Rory Feely cross failed to hit the target.
However, with just one goal the difference between the sides, Derry striker Ally Roy smashed a shot off the crossbar and that was as good as it go for Kenny Shiels’s side.
WATERFORD: Connor; Feely, Browne, Webster, Comerford; Hutchinson (Keegan, 85 mins), Hery, Holohan, Puri; Hunt; Akinade (O’Halloran, 75 mins).
Referee: P McLaughlin (Donegal)
Limerick 1 Sligo Rovers 3
A stunning strike by long serving Raffaele Cretaro sealed a precious win for Sligo Rovers at the Market’s Field and left Limerick that step closer to facing a relegation playoff.
Cretaro was a 32nd-minute substitute for injured Rhys McCabe and his crucial goal came after 64 minutes.
Limerick had reason to regret not taking some of the chances they created in the opening 30 minutes.
Three minutes before the break from a corner on the left by former Limerick player Lee Lynch, the ball broke to Cretaro who crossed to Drennan, who headed home from close range.
Limerick went close twice in as many minutes on the resumption but were rocked back when Drennan slotted home a penalty after 52 minutes.
LIMERICK: Holland, Cantwell (Kelly h/t), Coleman, Wearen, Duggan, Ellis (Morrissey, 54 mins), Broudar (Murphy, 79 mins), Fitzgerald, Dennehy, O’Sullivan, Maguire.
SLIGO ROVERS: Beeney, Sharkey, Mahon, McClean, Donelon, Keaney, McCabe (Cretaro, 32 mins), Lynch, Wixted (Kerrigan, 71 mins), Twardek, Drennan.
Referee: Robert Harvey.