Courtney Duffus takes centre stage as Waterford overcome Rovers
Waterford 2 Shamrock Rovers 1
COURTNEY DUFFUS bagged a brace against 10-man Shamrock Rovers at a rain-swept RSC as Waterford leapt above them into second place in the Premier Division.
All three goals arrived in a frantic five-minute first-half period after Rovers had lost Ally Gilchrist early on to a red card.
First-time efforts by Duffus came either side of Graham Burke’s sixth goal of the season which wasn’t enough for the Hoops.
The victory was Waterford’s fourth from four games at home which, added to three points in Sligo, has them just a point off defending champions and leaders Cork City.
Similar to the recent wins at the RSC against St Pat’s and Bohemians, Alan Reynolds’ side began on the front foot.
Gilchrist only succeeded in helping them by diving in on Dean O’Halloran to earn a yellow card. Within 60 seconds, the 3,000-strong crowd were baying for blood when he dragged down Duffus and Paul McLaughlin issued the red card.
That was only the start of the drama as Gavan Holohan soon blazed over from close range.
Waterford soon got their rewards with Dylan Barnett’s right-wing cross causing mayhem for substitute Luke Byrne.
When the full-back sent his header up in the air, Duffus turned brilliantly in the box to send his low shot skidding past Tomer Chencinski.
Within two minutes, the Hoops struck back. There seemed little danger when Brandon Miele found Burke on the right but he cut inside and found the net off the far post with a sumptuous curler for his sixth goal the season.
An eventful evening continued down the other end. Lee Grace got dispossessed by Stanley Aborah on the edge of his own box, with the ball breaking for Holohan. He looked up to pick out Duffus to stab his first-time shot through the legs of Chencinski.
Rovers created a couple of chances to snatch a point. Grace’s header two minutes into the second half forced Lawrence Vigouroux to parry the ball away while, with 19 minutes left, Dan Carr raced clear only for Garry Comerford to produce a last-ditch tackle.
WATERFORD – Vigouroux; J Kavanagh, Comerford, Webster, Barnett; Keegan; O’Halloran (Akinade 53), Aborah, Holohan (Puri 85), Héry; Duffus (Kasmi 78).
SHAMROCK ROVERS – Chencinski; Boyle, Grace, Gilchrist, Clarke (Byrne 31 [Bone 48]); G Bolger, Finn; Burke, Miele, Coustrain (Lopes 11); Carr.
REF – P McLaughlin (Donegal)