Waterford United 2 Dundalk 1
Waterford moved top of the Premier Division alongside Cork City and Dundalk last night as Izzy Akinade’s brace helped overcome the Lilywhites.
On the latest night of high drama at the Regional Sports Centre, Dundalk lost skipper Stephen O’Donnell to what looked a serious injury before conceding twice in the stoppage-time it caused at the end of the first half.
Although Ronan Murray pulled a goal back with the last kick of the half, Stephen Kenny's side were unable to produce an equaliser through a combination of stout Waterford defending and profligacy up front.
Akinade had scored the winner in his last outing against the Lilywhites in October, then as a Bohemians player, and he forced Gary Rogers to turn his 35th-minute bullet header around the post.
Then came the unfortunate latest injury set-back for Dundalk captain O’Donnell.
There looked little in the challenge from Stanley Aborah on his midfield adversary but the reaction of both sets of players indicated all was not well.
Six minutes were needed to treat the Galway native before he left the field on a stretcher to widespread applause from the crowd of 3,508.
Akinade soon took centre stage, firstly towering above the stranded Rogers from a deep Rory Feely free-kick to nod the ball into an empty net.
Having failed to score in his first 11 appearances for his new club, the 24-year-old notched his second in a five-minute blitz.
From Garry Comerford's crisp ball into his feet, Akinade was given far too much room by Dan Cleary to brush off the Dundalk defender before tucking his low shot beneath Rogers.
Back came Dundalk with Murray netting for the second successive game with a free kick over the wall and into the roof of the net.
While Robbie Benson and Pat Hoban missed a couple of sitters to grab the equaliser, Paul Keegan's ferocious volley which clipped the inside of the far post and bounced across the line almost extended Waterford's winning margin.
WATERFORD: Vigouroux; Barnett, Comerford, Webster, Feely; Keegan; Aborah (J Martin, 69 mins), Holohan, Héry; Akinade, Duffus (Puri, 84 mins).
DUNDALK: Rogers; Hoare, Gartland, Cleary (McGrath, 46 mins), Jarvis; O'Donnell (Shields, 44 mins), Benson; Mountney, Murray (Connolly, 63 mins), Duffy; Hoban.
Referee: D Tomney (Dublin)
Attendance: 3 508.