Dundalk 1 Waterford 0
DUNDALK returned to winning ways to advance to the second round of the FAI Cup but there was no swagger in their progression.
One point from six since the restart has left the champions’ title hopes hanging by a thread but they did enough to edge out a spirited Waterford side that return to Oriel Park for league fare on Friday.
Both teams made six changes from their last league activity, with Waterford boss John Sheridan resting players whereas with Dundalk it was more a case of utilising their big squad in an attempt to generate momentum and work on sharpness ahead of their Champions League date in Hungary next Wednesday.
They learned before the game that football in Slovenia has been shelved for 10 days, so Celje will miss the first two competitive matches of their restarted season. It might complicate research but Dundalk need to find rhythm from somewhere.
Vinny Perth has strong central defensive options and brought in Brian Gartland and Seán Hoare here after they missed the costly struggles against St Pat’s and Bohs.
Hoare headed the hosts into an early lead, capitalising on poor defending from Jake Davidson to dispatch a Stefan Colovic free beyond Waterford’s stand-in stopper Tadgh Ryan.
Waterford started with three at the back, matching teams that have enjoyed recent success against the locals, but they never really threatened in the opposing half and needed Ryan to save smartly from Michael Duffy before the break.
The loss of Cameron Dummigan to a freak ankle injury was a blow for Dundalk, and they continued to lack the imagination of old in the second half, although the return of Patrick McEleney was a bonus.
They need to find another gear quickly, however.
Dundalk – Rogers; Dummigan (Gannon 43), Gartland, Hoare, Leahy; Shields; Colovic (Gatt 78), Sloggett (McEleney 69), Patching (Mountney 69), Duffy; Hoban (McMillan 78).
Waterford – Ryan; Bone, Davidson, McCourt; Sobowale, O’Keeffe (Wilson 60), Weir (Griffin 60), Smith; Martin (O’Connor 60); Fitzgerald (Coote 79), Longbottom (Byrne 64).
Ref – P McLaughlin.