By Denis Hurley of Echolive.ie
Cork City experienced a fifth league game in a row without a win as they fell to defeat against Waterford at the Regional Sports Centre on Friday night.
While the Blues have endured a tough week off the pitch, they took the honours in this Munster derby, going ahead through Shane Duggan before Zack Elbouzedi secured victory in injury time.
City once again went with two up front, Darragh Crowley making his first start as he partnered Graham Cummins, while Conor McCormack was back in midfield after injury ruled him out of Monday’s loss at UCD. He replaced Garry Comerford, who was sent off in that game, with Gary Boylan also missing out.
With full-backs Conor McCarthy and Shane Griffin pushing on, City played well for much of the first half, though Waterford did have the first half-chance as Bastien Héry put an overhead kick wide in the first five minutes.
McCormack did much to limit the influence of Héry in the Waterford midfield and City moved the ball swiftly, with James Tilley and Crowley going close early on while Kevin Feely had to defend well at the expense of a corner when Tilley got on the end of a good Dan Casey pass from deep.
Midway through the half, Waterford left-back Kevin Lynch did test Mark McNulty with a curling free kick which was touched away for a corner, but City continued to have the better of the play. Cummins shot wide from a tight angle just before the half-hour following Crowley’s flick-on and they had the ball in the net on 33 minutes but Garry Buckley was judged to be offside when he finished after Matthew Connor had saved from Cummins.
Another chance almost arrived as Griffin’s cross found Crowley but his knock-down just eluded Cummins, however as the half ended, Waterford began to improve. Elbouzedi had an effort from distance which was well over and then he missed the target on 39 following a beautiful through ball from Héry.
In the final minute of the half, Héry himself had a chance, shooting wide following a good break from former City man Aaron Drinan. Drinan would go close on the resumption, just failing to get enough contact on a Kevin Lynch cross two minutes after the restart, but it ensured that Waterford continued to hold the momentum.
Former City man Shane Duggan did well on 50 minutes as he jinked in from the right-hand side before unleashing a shot which required a good save from McNulty.
City’s first real chance came when Conor McCarthy got his head to a Griffin corner but couldn’t direct it on target. That was only brief respite, however, with Waterford continuing to look the more likely to open the scoring.
Defender Rory Feely had a header from a JJ Lunney free kick which required a Dan Casey goal-line clearance, then Ismahil Akinade had a low shot which flew just wide and it was the striker whose backheel gave sub Karolis Chvedukas a chance on 74. Though the former Dundalk man fired straight at McNulty, Waterford kept the play alive and the ball was worked to Duggan, 25 yards out in space. He carried it forward and let fly, with a hint of a deflection and it went past the dive of McNulty, to the delight of the home support.
City brought on Dáire O’Connor, who had been out with injury since the Bohemians game on March 15 – City’s last league win – while Darragh Rainsford and Dan Smith were also introduced in a bid to turn things around.
Few bright spots were forthcoming, though, and Waterford didn’t sit back – Duggan might have had a second but couldn’t sufficiently test McNulty. City pressed in injury time but, when a corner broke down, Elbouzedi seared clear and finished well for 2-0, as he did in the game in Turner’s Cross in February.
WATERFORD: Connor; Simpson (Poynton 72), Feely, Delaney, Lynch (Chvedukas 56); Duggan, Lunney; Elbouzedi, Héry, Drinnan, Akinade (Walsh 90).
Referee: N Doyle (Dublin)