Shamrock Rovers 1 Waterford FC 1
Shamrock Rovers striker Graham Burke completed a memorable week by rescuing a point for his side against Waterford FC at the Tallaght Stadium.
On the back of his impressive domestic form, the former Notts County star was selected in the Republic of Ireland preliminary squad for their upcoming international games on Thursday.
Though the Blues looked set to increase the pressure on Cork City and Dundalk at the top of the table, Burke cancelled out Gavan Holohan’s opening half strike to ensure a sharing of the spoils.
In addition to Ally Gilchrist replacing the suspended Joey O'Brien, goalkeeper Tomer Chencinski and striker Gary Shaw were drafted into the Rovers line-up in the wake of last week's 2-0 reversal to St Patrick's Athletic.
While there were wholesale changes from the Waterford team that were knocked out of the EA Sports Cup by Sligo Rovers, Sander Puri and Derek Daly were the only players not to start in the 2-1 league success over Dundalk eight days ago.
Although they had their hands full with raiding Hoops wing-backs Ethan Boyle and Sean Kavanagh, it was the visitors who initially posed the greater attacking threat. After Bastien Hery's curling effort marginally cleared the crossbar, Ismahil Akinade and Holohan both forced close-range saves from Chencinski.
At the opposite end, Boyle headed just wide off an enticing Kavanagh delivery on the left-wing. Just when a scoreless first half appeared on the cards, Waterford broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion on 38 minutes.
From all of 25 yards, Holohan dispatched a powerful swerving shot beyond the reach of the stranded Chencinski - providing Waterford with a one-goal cushion at the interval.
With the prospect of another morale-sapping defeat looming large, Rovers boss Stephen Bradley introduced Dan Carr and Brandon Miele on the resumption. This led to a tactical re-shuffle for the hosts, but a makeshift Waterford back-four were largely untroubled in the third-quarter.
They breathed a sigh of relief when Miele volleyed agonisingly past the post, however, and this acted as a sign of things to come from Rovers. Following Carr’s inch-perfect cross on the left-wing in the 74th-minute, Burke was on hand to head into an empty net.
This kept Waterford on high alert for the remainder of the contest, but Alan Reynolds’ men held off a late surge by the hosts to remain just three points adrift of Cork in third place.
Shamrock Rovers: Chencinski; Boyle, Grace, Lopes, Gilchrist (Miele, 46 mins), Kavanagh; A Bolger, G Bolger, Finn (McAllister, 76 mins); Shaw (Carr, 46 mins), Burke.
Waterford FC: Vigouroux; Puri, Feely, Barnett, Daly (Walsh, 92 mins); Aborah; Keegan, Holohan; Hery; Akinade, Duffus (Kasmi, 78 mins).
Referee: N Doyle (Dublin)