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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019

'When we're at our best I think we'll be a match for anyone'

Waterford got the better of Munster neighbours Cork City last night with a well-deserved 2-0 win.

VASTLY CONTRASTING EMOTIONS from one week to the next.

After being beaten by the last kick of the game against Shamrock Rovers in their Premier Division opener, responses don’t come much more satisfying for Waterford than a victory at Turner’s Cross.

Zak Elbouzedi celebrates scoring a goal Zach Elbouzedi celebrates after scoring Waterford's second goal against Cork City. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Thanks to goals from Bastien Hery and Zach Elbouzedi, the Blues came out in top in a Premier Division fixture on Leeside for the first time since April 2004.

Alan Reynolds was the club’s player-manager back then, a fact he reminded The42 of after last night’s game. Fifteen years later, he was heading back up the N25 with three top-flight points once more.

“Playing Cork City away after what happened last week, I suppose it’s not one that you’d be relishing,” said the Waterford boss. “We’re a new squad from last year. We’ve lost so many players. We have good players now but I think they’ll take time to gel.

“In patches tonight we were very good. We played the right type of way and tried to excite people. I think we deserved that tonight. We could have picked off another couple of goals but it’s hard to do that against Cork.

“But I think tonight we controlled the game. In the first half especially we could have been two or three goals up. We caught them on the break then for the second one.”

For the second game in a row, Waterford were involved in a goal scored after the 90th minute. Shamrock Rovers broke their hearts last week, but Zach Elbouzedi wrapped up an impressive win for the Blues last night in the second minute of additional time.

Waterford had hit the front on the stroke of half-time. Deployed in an advanced midfield role, Bastien Hery beat Cork City goalkeeper Mark McNulty from the edge of the box to give the visitors a lead they deserved for their first-half dominance.

Alan Reynolds Waterford manager Alan Reynolds. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Having finished in the top four last year in the club’s first season back in the Premier Division for a decade, Reynolds would have been hoping to kick on in 2019. However, the Waterford manager’s scope for strengthening his squad was hampered.

While newcomers like Elbouzedi, JJ Lunney, Shane Duggan and Kevin Lynch have already made a positive impact, key players from 2018 such as Stanley Aborah, Gavan Holohan, Paul Keegan and Courtney Duffus are no longer on the scene.

It was a difficult winter on the recruitment front for Reynolds, who’s working with a significantly smaller pool of players than several other Premier Division clubs. 

“People might look at that tonight and say we’re a really good side, but we’re a new team so we could be inconsistent for a bit until we find our way,” he said.

“When you talk about budgets with the likes of Shamrock Rovers and Cork, we’re a million miles away. Rovers are a really good side as well. I was very impressed with them last week, to play the football they did in those conditions. I’m hoping by the next time we play them that we’ll be after settling into our own style.

“Everyone is looking for us to build on last year. Unfortunately the budget has been cut and everyone can see that. We have 18 players as it stands but I don’t want to be using that as an excuse either. We’ve just got to get on with it, win our games and try to get some momentum.”

He added: “It’s been very challenging. Even today and yesterday, you’re trying to get players in but falling short. We were back in pre-season with 14 lads. If you have a knock or two or three, you’re short numbers and how do you prepare your team like that?

Bastien Hery Bastien Hery in possession for Waterford last night against Cork City. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“That’s why I think we’ll get better as it goes on. Adding in four or five players in the last week or so isn’t ideal, but that’s the way things have been done. That’s the way the owner wanted to do it so I have to roll with it and do my best.”

After completing a two-match ban carried over from last season, Reynolds will be back in Waterford’s dugout for Monday night’s trip to Derry City. The season got off to a tough start for his side, but they now have something to build on. 

“I wasn’t happy with the performance or the shape of the team against Rovers last Friday,” Reynolds said. “I have to take responsibility when I look at that. We didn’t look like we knew what we were doing. That’s the manager’s job.

“But we had a gameplan and a proper system to play tonight. It worked really well, so I am happy. When we’re at our best I think we’ll be a match for anyone.” 

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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