Six red cards as Blues secure thrilling victory
Waterford 2 Cork City 1
Three points for Waterford. Six red cards. As Munster derbies go, this RSC showdown has set a high bar for drama as this rivalry grows.
Alan Reynolds and John Caulfield had chatted cordially on the sideline beforehand, and it was the calm before the storm as they both ended this game in the dressing room after an extraordinary injury time row involving players, subs and staff from each side.
Waterford stars Bastian Hery and Stanley Aborah face suspensions for their part in the incident that will take some of the gloss off a win that sees the Blues move above Cork in the table and joint top with Dundalk.
This was quite a turnaround from the second game of the season at Turners Cross where the Leesiders were superior.
Last night, it was a quality midfield display led by Hery and Aborah that instigated a second half turnaround that rocked a Cork side which was furious at the end after Hery refused to give the ball back in the fourth minute of additional time.
He jogged away with the ball as Cork prepared to take a throw-in and, as Caulfield went onto the pitch to retrieve it, he was shoved to the ground by Hery and all hell broke loose.
Cork midfielder Garry Buckley and unused sub Steven Beattie were also adjudged to have done enough for an early bath, with referee Rob Rogers calling in the help of his support team.
Aborah, who had been replaced after a man of the match display, was punished for approaching Buckley on his way to the dressing room to instigate another argument.
Caulfield acknowledged fault for going on the pitch himself, but suggested the replays might have implications for a number of parties.
Far from being horrified, the vast bulk of the 3,684 crowd were enjoying it as the wasted time was only adding to Cork's frustration.
This game had slipped away from them. And it had all started so well.
It was fitting that Waterford trailed at half-time courtesy of a goal conceded from a set piece, because a consistent feature of the first half was the amount of fouls they committed that gave the visitors dead ball opportunities.
Cork succeeded in capitalising from the first one, with the remaining seats being filled just as Barry McNamee's dangerous delivery was eventually swept home by Conor McCarthy.
That was typical of a first half when Waterford's concentration was off at the wrong moments. Cork did succeed in forcing errors, with Caulfield's men recognising the strength of the hosts in the middle where they operate a diamond.
With Kieran Sadlier and McNamee a threat out wide, Waterford were squeezed in the centre of the park and struggling to get out with Cork applying pressure on sitting midfielder Paul Keegan who can dictate the tempo from deep.
Conor McCormack and Gearoid Morrissey were typically busy and the locals were frustrated with front pair Courtney Duffus and Izzy Akinade unable to probe.
Waterford did improve as the half progressed, with left full Dylan Barnett getting forward to try and provide some width, and his persistence created a set piece opportunity that Keegan floated over the bar. The Blues did string together some nice passages of play that illustrated their qualities with Hery and Aborah prominent.
Cork lacked real conviction in their play and there was a sense that the tide was turning in the minutes before the break.
Waterford kept the pressure on from the restart, with Barnett swapping sides with Garry Comerford in the only positional switch.
Reynolds got more from Akinade, though, with the front man making a couple of runs to the Cork's left side that dragged green shirts out of shape.
It was from a period of pressure that followed which resulted in the leveller with Holohan capitalising on the chaos caused by Akinade and drilling a right footer across the box that was steered past Mark McNulty by Cork skipper McCormack.
The locals were delirious and their mood improved as the Frenchman Hery and Belgian Aborah began to entertain with their trickery. It was helping the strikers to get involved and Duffus fired over at the end of a flowing team move.
Their willingness to play almost cost them when a confident Hery pass towards his own goal ended up functioning as the perfect through ball for McNamee but the winter signing from Derry was unable to convert.
Caulfield was increasingly animated as his team struggled to exert influence and McCormack was replaced by Jimmy Keohane before Karl Sheppard was sent in for Graham Cummins to bring speed up top.
But Waterford were quicker to everything and nabbed the winner, with Aborah finding the space to release Akinade whose goalbound effort was helped over the line by Duffus before tensions really spilled over.
WATERFORD - Vigouroux, Comerford, Webster, Browne, Barnett; Keegan; Aborah (Puri 90), Hery; Holohan; Duffus, Akinade (Feely 86)
CORK CITY - McNulty, McCarthy, Barry. McLoughlin, Griffin; McCormack (Keohane 70), Morrissey (O'Hanlon 83); McNamee, Buckley, Sadlier; Cummins (Sheppard 74)
REF - R Rogers (Dublin)