Waterford FC 3-0 Kerry FC
By David Moriarty • Photos by Adam Kowalczyk
Friday started off with the first of two games in the August bank holiday weekend for Kerry FC as they travelled to the Waterford regional sports centre for the second time this season to take on Waterford FC.
The last time Kerry travelled to Waterford they narrowly lost 1-0 through a seventieth minute goal from Ronan Coughlan. When the two sides last met more recently, Kerry suffered one of their toughest defeats of this season losing 6-0 to the blues in Mounthawk at the start of June. A lot has changed in terms of the squad for Kerry since then, so they would come into the game hopeful of putting up a better challenge than last time out.
Kerry were handed an injury blow with the goal scorer from last week Sam Aladesanusi missing the game through injury, leaving the way for Kevin Williams to return to the starting eleven for the second game running.
Ahead of the game on Friday, Kerry FC assistant manager James Sugrue spoke to the media and talked about the battle ahead in his opinion, “the best footballing side in the country.” He said the players know how tough of a game it would be, but they were fully confident that if they could keep their defensive shape well, they could get a result for the travelling Kerry support.
The first chance of the game came to Ronan Coughlan. He received the ball on his left side after a bit of possession for the home team. He took the shot from just outside the box and his dragged effort took a slight deflection that put the ball just out for a corner. The corner led to nothing thankfully for Kerry FC.
Ten minutes into the first half and Kerry were playing a risky game losing the ball easily in dangerous areas that Waterford would only be delighted to pounce on at any stage in the game.
Kerry brought their A game shortly after and had three big chances in quick succession. The first of which came to Matt Keane as he took a shot outside the box that was laid off to him by Sean McGrath, but his effort was put over the bar for a corner by Sam Sargent. From that corner the ball would arrive in and out of the box on a couple of occasions but eventually a high ball landed to the feet of Leo Gaxha from close range at a tough angle and his effort was put away just outside the right post again from Sargent. The third and final opportunity Kerry had from that run of possession would come from the subsequent corner that was whipped in and a header from the near post by Ethan Kos drifted wide of the left-hand post. A real boost for the Kingdom showing the home side that they were up for the fight.
After Kerry’s threat, Waterford would regain their dominant possession. Passing the ball around well in good areas that only needed a foot to put them ahead in the game on a couple of occasions. Kerry would hold on strong and defend well with their five at the back structure.
Kerry would come under threat again when Martin Coughlan gave a free kick away about twenty-five yards from goal. The free kick was dinked into Ronan Coughlan from Cameron Cresswell. Coughlan found space just eight yards out but was again defended away from Kevin Williams as Kerry faced excruciating pressure. A few minutes later Cresswell would have another effort from the same distance go just over the bar and would have been a fantastic goal had it gone in.
Waterford would have their efforts rewarded shortly after the free kick as they went ahead on the thirty-eighth minute. Again, the ball was coming in and out of the box. When not being dealt with a shot from Rowland Idowu was blocked but it would return to Connor Parsons who struck the ball with pure power and precision into the left side of the goal giving Nganou no chance in the Kerry net.
Given Kerry were facing one of the absolute best in the league, they could take positives from the opening forty-five minutes. If Kerry took the lead from their first three opportunities, it could have been a different story going into the second period.
The pressure from Waterford resumed after half time as they nearly doubled their lead. A free kick out on the right wing whipped in by the left foot of Barry Baggley reached the head of Ronan Coughlan whose header hit off the right-hand post and found its way into the hands of Nganou. Kerry needed that sort of luck if they were to come back into the game.
From an attacking point-of-view Kerry were clearing the ball long in the hope that Kelliher, Gaxha, or McGrath would be there to get in behind the Waterford defence. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort was happening for the Kingdom.
As we hit the hour mark, the game was totally one sided in the favour of Waterford. Kerry tried their best to get attacks started but struggled to make anything of them due to the strength that the Waterford defence had at their disposal.
Waterford would double their lead on the sixty-sixth minute through Rowland Idowu. The midfielder picked up the ball far out with space and decided there was no other option than to take the shot on which he did superbly. A curled effort went away from Nganou and again the new Kerry shot stopper could do nothing about it. With twenty minutes to go Kerry again had it all to do.
With an uphill battle against them, Kerry nearly cut the lead in half just two minutes after Waterford got their second. Leo Gaxha picked up the ball on the left wing and took on the Waterford defence. He took the shot on and a deflection from Niall O’Keefe wrong-footed Sargent, but the keeper was not letting anything get past him on the night and he kept the Kerry captains’ effort at bay.
The end of the game was quite scrappy and slow. Waterford did not need to do much more as they felt comfortable with their two-goal advantage and Kerry were still unable to create any concrete chances for the remainder of the game.
Waterford would get one more through Ronan Coughlan in the ninety-first minute after his first touch from a long through pass went past a stranded Nganou and all he had to do was finish it off to put the blues three to the good.
With all this said it was no surprise that the game finished 3-0 to Waterford. An extraordinarily strong home performance from a team who had their opposition under constant pressure throughout the ninety. Kerry did well throughout also but needed to create more and be more clinical. Truly little could be done about all three goals, and they will take as many positives as they can before they host Cobh Ramblers back home in Mounthawk Park on the bank holiday Monday.
Kerry FC Team: 16. Arthur Nganou, 24. Jonathan Hannafin, 5. Ethan Kos, 2. Rob Vasiu, 15. Kevin Williams, 22. Cian Barret, 19. Martin Coughlan, 8. Matt Keane, 10. Leo Gaxha (C), 7. Sean McGrath, 9. Ryan Kelliher.
Subs: Aaron O’Sullivan, Alex Ainscough, Nathan Gleeson, Ronan Teahan, Togor Soling, Cian Brosnan, Andy Quaid, Kennedy Amechi, Sean O’Connell.
Waterford FC Team: 31. Sam Sargent, 3. Ryan Burke, 8. Barry Baggley, 10. Connor Parsons (Goal ‘38), 15. Harry Nevin, 16. Drew Baker, 18. Cameron Cresswell, 19. Ronan Coughlan (Goal ‘90), 20. Rowland Idowu (Goal ‘66), 21. Christie Pattisson, 22. Giles Phillips (C).
Subs: Paul Martin, Niall O’Keefe, Sam Perry, Eddie Nolan, Serge Atakayi, Romeo Akachukwu, Killian Cantwell, Adam Queally, Ronan Mansfield.