Dundalk returned to winning ways with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Waterford at at wet and dreary Oriel Park on Friday evening.
Daniel Kelly’s goal on the stroke of half-time gave the Lilywhites a crucial victory moving the side three points clear of the Blues.
Head coach Vinny Perth made three changes from the side which lost to St. Patrick’s Athletic on Monday evening at Richmond Park with Sean Murray, Daniel Cleary and Patrick Hoban coming in for Sam Stanton, Cameron Dummigan and David McMillan.
Dundalk had the first chance of the match when Michael Duffy’s cross was scuffed by Hoban which went into the path of Daniel Kelly but he couldn’t guide his effort on target.
Waterford took control for a very brief period when Junior Quitirna first had a shot go well wide before John Martin then had a goalbound effort blocked by Daniel Cleary.
Duffy cut in off the left and had goalkeeper Paul Martin scrambling across his goal as his dipping effort went inches wide.
Quitirna tried at the other end from a more central position and his shot had Cherrie worried but it did clear the crossbar.
Murray was then clever and almost capitalised on a short Greg Halford header, in which he attempted to nod back to his goalkeeper, however under pressure from Martin he fired over to round off a fairly open first 15 minutes.
The match was scrappy then with both sides trading chances – Kelly for Dundalk shooting over the bar before Jack Stafford did the same but his had Cherrie just watching as the ball creeped over the crossbar.
The Lilywhites really should have taken the lead just before half-time when a swift counter attack saw Duffy feed Kelly who danced inside and got free however he blazed over from 10 yards.
Dundalk did take the lead on the stroke of half-time when Kelly got in behind the Waterford defence and showed superb composure to slide the ball under the oncoming Martin.
It was almost 2-0 immediately when Hoban intercepted a loose ball and got through on goal but he snatched at the effort and blazed over the bar.
Hoban should have doubled the advantage straight after the re-start when he was played in by Will Patching but Martin got down well to save.
From the following corner, Andy Boyle headed from close range but it was somehow blocked on the line and cleared with some last ditch defending.
Waterford got forward for their first attack of the second half and almost levelled things when Anthony Wordsworth found himself free in the box but he dragged his shot just wide.
Duffy was next for Dundalk and forced another good save from Martin, this time from the edge of the area. His effort was palmed to Hoban and he was also denied by the goalkeeper from close range.
Junior retrieved what looked like a lost cause for Waterford and his shot was blocked by Cherrie as the visitors chased an equaliser.
That leveller should have came with 20 minutes left on the watch when Junior used his pace to get away from Boyle and Cleary to be through on goal. However his goalbound shot was met by a stunning save by Cherrie to keep the side in front.
Junior then tried to catch Cherrie off guard at his near post from an acute angle however he was almost too clever and hit the side netting.
Sami Ben Amar had a shot go inches wide as the Lilywhites were able to soak up the pressure from Marc Bircham’s side.
There would be no real late onslaught from the visitors and Dundalk were able to see out the match and take the all important three points to remain seventh in the standings.
DUNDALK: Peter Cherrie; Raivis Jurkovskis, Daniel Cleary, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy; Greg Sloggett (Cameron Dummigan 45), Sean Murray; Daniel Kelly (Sami Ben Amar 73), Will Patching, Michael Duffy; Patrick Hoban (David McMillan 85). Subs not used: Alessio Abibi (GK), Sonni Nattestad, Mayowa Animasahun, Ryan O’Kane, Mark Hanratty, Han Jeongwoo.
WATERFORD: Paul Martin; Darragh Power, Greg Halford, Jack Stafford, Cameron Evans; Phoenix Patterson, John Martin, Anthony Wordsworth, Shane Griffin (Ronaldo Green 63), Kyle Ferguson (Niall O’Keeffe 63); Junior Quitirna. Subs not used: Kyle Cooke (GK), George Forrest, Jeremie Milambo, Isaac Tshimpamba, Callum Stringer, Jamal Dupree.
Referee: John McLoughlin