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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 4 March 2021

Cummins and Burke on target as Hoops grind out win to close gap on leaders Dundalk

Waterford produced a strong performance at Tallaght Stadium despite finishing the game with 10 men.

Shamrock Rovers players celebrate a goal against Waterford.
Shamrock Rovers players celebrate a goal against Waterford.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 2

Waterford 1

Dave Donnelly reporting at Tallght Stadium

DEBUTANT DANNY LAFFERTY created the winner as a nervy Shamrock Rovers overcame Waterford at Tallaght Stadium to reduce the gap to leaders Dundalk to four points.

Goals in either half from Graham Cummins and Graham Burke saw the Hoops grind out a win against a dogged Blues side hamstrung by Karolis Chvedukas’ first-half red card.

Dean O’Halloran had cancelled out Cummins’ opener four minutes before the break only for the Lithuanian international to see straight red for am impetuous challenge on Lafferty.

There seemed little danger on when the former Sheffield United man received the ball on the halfway line but Chvedukas dove in with studs showing and referee Derek Tomney reached for red.

It brought a dramatic end to what had been, for 36 minutes, a dour first half played at a tempo that would have suited the visitors, who lost 5-2 to the same opposition at home seven days ago.

Jack Byrne had been the star that day with two thrilling long-range strikes but he was rested, perhaps with Friday’s Dublin derby encounter with Bohemians in mind.

graham-cummins-celebrates-scoring-a-goal Graham Cummins celebrates scoring a goal for Shamrock Rovers. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

And the Hoops were flat for much of the first half, and it was perhaps telling that their opener came directly from a Waterford mistake.

Rob Slevin, under pressure from Cummins, underhit his backpass to Matthew Connor and the Cork City loanee needed no invitation to slot the ball past the keeper.

It seemed harsh on the Blues and they equalised within five minutes as JJ Lunney swung in a precise free kick and O’Halloran buried his header past Alan Mannus.

So far, so good for the Blues, who looked set to make it to the break on terms, but Chvedukas dived in on Lafferty and the referee was left with no choice but to produce the card.

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From the resulting free kick, Rovers hit both posts as a header rebounded back off one and, after Connor lost the ball on the ground, Cummins hit the other.

Rovers hit the front six minutes into the second half when a fine burst of pace and cross from Lafferty was swept home with ease by Burke, his first since returning to the Hoops.

Burke struck the base of the post moments later from Lafferty’s pass as Rovers looked to put the tie to bed but, try as they might, the goal wouldn’t come.

Sean Kavanagh played Aaron Greene in with a sublime pass but the ball got stuck under his feet, before the striker volleyed Kavanagh’s cross wide from point-blank range.

That could have cost Rovers in injury time as Mannus spilled Zack Elbouzedi’s shot, but Lee Grace made a vital sliding tackle to prevent Walter Figueira turning the loose ball home.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Sean Callan, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Ethan Boyle, Greg Bolger (Aaron McEneff 46), Dylan Watts, Graham Burke, Danny Lafferty (Sean Kavanagh 74); Aaron Greene, Graham Cummins (Jack Byrne 46).

Waterford: Matthew Connor; John Kavanagh, Robert Slevin, Maxi Kouogun, Kevin Lynch; Georgie Poynton, Karolis Chvedukas, Tom Holland (Zack Elbouzedi 78); JJ Lunney, Dean O’Halloran (Walter Figueira 69), William Fitzgerald (Sam Bone 46).

Referee: Derek Tomney.

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About the author:

Dave Donnelly

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