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Dublin: 2°C Monday 12 April 2021

Benson's beauty helps Dundalk overcome Waterford to maintain lead at the top

Marco Tagbajumi was also on target for the Lilywhites tonight.

Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Dundalk 2

Waterford 0

Paul Fennessy reports from Oriel Park

DUNDALK SURVIVED ONE or two nervy moments to beat Waterford 2-0 at Oriel Park tonight and maintain their lead at the top of the Premier Division table.

Robbie Benson’s lovely curling finish handed the home side a deserved lead shortly before half-time, before a last-gasp goal on the counter attack from Marco Tagbajumi ensured the Lilywhites claimed all three points.

Waterford improved after the break and had one or two chances to equalise in the second half.

Alan Reynolds side also had a penalty shout 14 minutes from time when Rory Feely went down under the challenge of Gary Rogers, with the referee ignoring the visitors’ protests.

Dundalk were going into the game on the back of a three-match winning run in the league that enabled them to climb two points ahead of Cork City.

Meanwhile, their opponents, who sit third in the table, had not won in a game since defeating the Lilywhites 2-1 at the start of the month.

Stephen Kenny’s side were unchanged from last Friday’s 2-0 win over Bohemians, while Alan Reynolds made three alterations following Waterford’s recent 6-3 defeat to Limerick. Stanley Aborah, who was sent off last week, missed out through suspension, while prolific striker Courtney Duffus was unavailable due to injury and Faysel Kasmi dropped to the bench. Paul Keegan, Dean O’Halloran and John Martin came in in their place.

Dundalk dominated possession in the opening stages but were left frustrated by a well-organised Waterford backline.

Benson blazed over from the edge of the area, while Jamie McGrath headed Sean Hoare’s cross off target, as a couple of half-chances went abegging.

Recently crowned player of the month Michael Duffy then produced the hosts’ best moment up to that point, as his ambitious effort from 30 yards out was expertly tipped over by Waterford stopper Lawrence Vigouroux.

Man-of-the-match Duffy was involved again in the 39th minute, as his low cross found Benson, with the former UCD man producing a brilliant finish from the edge of the area.

Waterford, whose captain Paul Keegan went off injured in the 34th minute, had looked pretty toothless in attack for much of the first half. However, a long-distance effort from Gavan Holohan just before the break forced Gary Rogers to tip behind for a corner and served as a reminder that the home side could not afford to be overly complacent in the second period.

The table-toppers then wasted a glorious opportunity to double their advantage just after the break. A quick-fire counter-attack started with McGrath and Connolly linking up well. The latter then laid his cross on a plate for Pat Hoban, who blazed over with only the goalkeeper to beat.

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Waterford approached the second half with greater attacking ambition than the first, but were still struggling to create chances of note.

A half-chance did come in the 68th minute, as Feely nodded wide an inswinging free kick from substitute Kasmi.

The 21-year-old was in the thick of it again eight minutes later. He got on the end of Ismahil Akinade’s cross, and went down under a challenge of Rogers, but the referee ignored claims for a penalty, much to the relief of the home crowd.

Waterford were getting closer as full-time approached — Kasmi’s attempt from the edge of the area was deflected narrowly wide, after more good work in the build up from the increasingly influential Feely.

In the dying seconds, the Blues came desperately close to salvaging a point. Sander Puri’s attempt from distance came back off the post, before Akinade’s cross on the rebound narrowly eluded Feely.

And that moment proved pivotal, as Dundalk subsequently wrapped up the victory with a clinically taken goal on the counter-attack.

Duffy broke down the left, and his cross found substitute Tagbajumi, who produced a composed finish to ensure the hosts claimed all three points.

Dundalk: Gary Rogers; Brian Gartland (c), Sean Hoare, Dane Massey (Dean Jarvis 46), Daniel Clearly; Michael Duffy, Chris Shields, Robbie Benson, Dylan Connolly (Krisztian Adorjan 66), Jamie McGrath; Patrick Hoban (Marco Tagbajumi 70).

Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Stephen Folan, Georgie Poynton, Ronan Murray.

Waterford: Lawrence Vigouroux; Dylan Barrett, Rory Feely, Paul Keegan (Sander Puri 34), Kenny Browne; Gavin Holohan, David Webster, Bastian Hery; John Martin (Derek Daly 74), Dean O’Halloran (Faysel Kasmi 58), Ismahil Akinade.

Subs not used: Niall Corbet, Colm Whelan, Justin Croke, Dean Walsh.

Referee: Robery Hennessy

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Paul Fennessy

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