St Patrick's Athletic 0 Waterford 1
Maybe having some pre-season turmoil and a team put together at the last minute is not such a bad thing, as Waterford proved with a shock away win on the opening day of the 2020 season.
Actually, Waterford winning away to St Patrick’s Athletic is not such a surprise as the Blues won on both of their visits to Emmet Road last season.
Given that three of Alan Reynolds’ starting XI were only signed days before the season’s curtain-raiser, Blues fans would have travelled to Dublin with more hope than confidence. But a new-look Waterford side put on a very solid display, weathered the storm when Pat’s had possession and posed a threat, and carried home a win thanks to a goal from debutant Kevin O’Connor early in the second half.
Veteran ’keeper Brian Murphy also played a role, making some key saves late on, one superb effort denying sub Chris Forrester a certain goal.
It was a testing off-season for the Blues, with doubts over the long-term plans of owner Lee Power, and the need for manager Reynolds to effectively build a team from scratch: nine of his starting XI in Inchicore were making their debuts.
Pat’s had new faces too (five of them) but it was the hastily built Waterford side who looked at ease, settling into the game early on.
As Waterford had been unable to make their early possession count, they suffered from that as the Dublin club found their feet and took a grip on the game, as Dean Clarke, Martin Rennie and former Blues player Rory Feely all had chances.
But Pat’s gifted Waterford their goal on 48 minutes, a poor pass from Robbie Benson giving possession to Matty Smith and his cross was converted by debutant O’Connor.
The Saints had enough chances to nab something but unfortunately found veteran ’keeper Murphy in superb form, saves denying subs Ronan Hale and Chris Forrester, giving Saints boss Stephen O’Donnell a tough start to his first full season in charge,
ST PAT’S ATHLETIC – B Clarke; Feely, McNally, Desmond, Bermingham; McClelland (Forrester 55), Lennon (Hale 66), Benson; D Clarke (Doona 78), Rennie, King.
WATERFORD – Murphy; Bone, Burley, Odimayo, Wilson; Coote, Allardice, K O’Connor, McCourt; M O’Connor, Smith (Power 76).
REF – Sean Grant