Cobh Ramblers show their quality in gripping draw with First Division leaders Waterford

Cobh Ramblers show their quality in gripping draw with First Division leaders Waterford

Ben O’Riordan, Cobh Ramblers, closes in on Mark O’Sullivan, Waterford. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Cobh Ramblers 0

Waterford 0

THIS top of the table First Division promotion clash drew the biggest crowd of the season to St Colman’s Park on Saturday night in a game that had everything by way of entertainment bar a match-winning goal.

League leaders Waterford had the better of the first half while Stephen Henderson’s young side came right back into action in the second half and with a little luck in front of goal might have snatched it at the death.

Cobh had the pre-match incentive of knowing that a home win would sweep them a point clear of the Blues at the top of the table but they were unable to overcome a physically stronger Waterford side.

Cobh were unchanged from the team that beat UCD 1-0 away last week while Waterford made two changes with Mark O’Sullivan and Gary Comerford coming in for Kenny McEvoy and Robin Dempsey.

The Blues won the previous meeting 2-1 at the Waterford RSC earlier in the year and they had the better of the first half action and created the best goal-scoring chances.

Jason Abbott, Cobh Ramblers, tackles Anthony McAlavey, Waterford. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Jason Abbott, Cobh Ramblers, tackles Anthony McAlavey, Waterford. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Cobh were bright to begin with as Stephen Christopher and Craig Donnellan tested Matt Connor in the visitors' goal and the ex-Cork City man saved both efforts.

Ian Mylod did well to stop O’Sullivan in his tracks as the physically stronger Waterford grew into the game and mid-way through Charlie Fleming was in the right place at the right time to deny Davy McDaid on the end of John Martin’s teasing cross.

Midfielder Gary Comerford’s diving header on Daly’s corner forced a good save from Cobh captain Paul Hunt before Blues skipper Patrick McClean was forced to retire with a shoulder injury after 27 minutes to be replaced by ex-Limerick boss Tommy Lynch’s son, Jack in the back four.

Twice in the minutes coming up to half-time, Mark O’Sullivan was close to a lead goal for the visitors as he headed just wide from Comerford’s cross and then in the 40th minute we had an extraordinary piece of action. McDaid’s cross picked out O’Sullivan but his header crashed off the near post then the ball rolled across the goal-line and hit the other post before ending up in Hunt’s arms. It was a let off for Ramblers.

Cian Coleman was booked early in the second half and then he had a snap shot to wide as this top billing First Division action resumed in the evening sunshine.

Ramblers boss Stephen Henderson made a double substitution on 63 minutes to try and freshen things up with Ross Mann and Anto O’Donnell coming on for Stephen Christopher and Scott McCarthy and the change had the desired effect with Cobh showing more of an offensive approach.

They had a chance from a free kick mid-way through but Jason Abbott’s effort was saved by Matt Connor as the tie remained scoreless.

With 20 minutes to go, Ross Mann fed front man Matthew Whelan whose right-footed drive carried just outside the far post, and in Cobh’s next attack, Mylod’s cross reached Whelan again but he headed over as Cobh looked for a late winner.

Cobh were much more of an attacking threat now as Mann got in behind the Blues defence again with ten minutes to go but his intended ball to Whelan was cut out by Connor and then Abbott’s volley from outside the box was straight at the Blues ‘keeper.

John Martin’s shot on the turn forced Hunt to another fine save four minutes from the end and Whelan lifted the ball over from O’Donnell’s pass as both sides had chances to claim the three points.

In added time, Charlie Fleming’s deep cross to the far post was met by the in-coming Anto O’Donnell whose downward produced the save of the night from Connor low down on his near post as the 0-0 result maintained the status quo at the top with Waterford still two points clear at the summit.

COBH RAMBLERS (4-4-1-1): Hunt (c); Fleming, O’Riordan, McSweeney, S. McCarthy; Christopher, Coleman, Donnellan, Mylod; Abbott, Whelan.

Subs: Mann & O’Donnell for S. McCarthy & Christopher (both 63), C. McCarthy for Donnellan (84), Murphy, Swords, Lowth & Sadys (not used).

WATERFORD (4-2-3-1): Connor; Whittle, Browne, McClean (c), O’Connor; Comerford, McAlavey; Daly, Martin, McDaid; O’Sullivan.

Subs: Lynch for McClean (injured 27), McEvoy for Daly (85), Walsh, Delaney, Wall, Dempsey & Sheehan (not used).

Referee: Alan Carey (Dublin).

Official attendance: 650.

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