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Griffin grabs draw for Waterford as 10-man St Pats see winning run end

It finished 1-1 at the RSC.

Shane Griffin celebrates scoring for Waterford.
Shane Griffin celebrates scoring for Waterford.
Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Waterford 1

St Patrick’s Athletic 1

John Fallon reports at RSC Waterford

SHANE GRIFFIN EARNED Waterford a precious point in their battle to avoid the drop, while also halting the three-match winning run of 10-man St Patrick’s Athletic.

Matty Smith’s fifth goal of the season put the Saints ahead on eight minutes at the RSC but they lost Alfie Lewis for a professional foul 10 minutes later and conceded Griffin’s equaliser before the break.

While Marc Bircham was able to name the Waterford side that won at fellow strugglers Longford Town on Monday, St Pat’s made four adjustments, two of them enforced.

Leading scorer Ronan Coughlan, who brought his haul to seven by bagging a brace in the 4-1 win over Finn Harps that sent them top, missed out with a muscle injury.

A knock also ruled Paddy Barrett out of facing his former club, creating a berth in defence for another former Blue, Sam Bone, to take. Eighteen-year-olds Darragh Burns and Ben McCormack were also drafted in and the latter had an eventful 21 minutes on the pitch.

McCormack enjoyed the measure of James Mascoll down the right wing from the outset, his burst and cross on four minutes almost teeing up the inrushing Robbie Benson for the opener.

He forged a more productive outcome from a similar situation four minutes later.

From John Mountney’s threaded pass, McCormack crossed to the far post where his opposite winger Billy King arrived on cue.

Brian Murphy batted away King’s close-range shot but McCormack whipped the loose ball back into the six-yard box for Matty Smith to force home at the second attempt amid a scramble.

Stephen O’Donnell’s side seemed to be in cruise control, only for the game to swing on a controversial red card on 18 minutes.

Alfie Lewis was far too casual trying to play out from the ball, allowing Shane Griffin to rob him of possession. Although the West Ham United loanee impeded Griffin’s charge on goal, it seemed Sam Bone was covering but referee John McLoughlin deemed Lewis to be last man and duly sent him off.

Griffin saw his shot deflected wide as Waterford looked to make their numerical advantage count but they were thankful to Murphy for blocking a rasping Smith shot with his legs.

Still, despite Burns being sacrificed for the solidity of substitute Jamie Lennon, Bircham’s side began to bore holes in the visiting defence and deservedly drew level on 35 minutes.

Prince Mutswunguma was the architect, drifting into the box from the right past Lee Desmond and his cutback was stroked first-time into the far corner by the unmarked Griffin.

Twice in the opening seven minutes of the second half, defensive hesitancy nearly cost Waterford.

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Murphy was relieved when Jack Stafford’s clearance ricocheted off Lennon and spun over the crossbar while the goalkeeper had to rescue O’Keefe’s mistake by denying King from ten yards.

The open nature of the contest continued as John Martin’s 75th-minute header at the other end from Mascoll’s free-kick clipped the post but a draw was probably a fair reflection of proceedings.

WATERFORD: B Murphy; D Power, K Ferguson, J Stafford (C Evans 63), J Mascoll; E Molloy, N O’Keefe, S Griffin, A O’Reilly, J Martin; P Mutswunguma.

ST PATRICK’S ATH: V Jaros; J Mountney, L Desmond, S Bone, J McClelland; A Lewis; B McCormack (J Lennon 21), D Burns, R Benson, B King (C Forrester 71); M Smith.

Referee: John McLoughlin (Westmeath)

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John Fallon

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