Mikey Place was the match winner at the Waterford RSC PICTURE: Stephen Doherty
Finn Harps earned a first away win of the season to reignite their survival hopes on Friday night.
Waterford FC . . . 0
Finn Harps . . . 1
Their victory at Waterford’s RSE was fully deserved - Mikey Place the match winner when he converted a 79th minute penalty.
Harps will have impressed those watching the game at home live on EirSport. They had a few good chances before Place was brought down for the penalty and the striker produced a cool finish to beat Matthew Connor from the spot.
It means Harps are back level on points with UCD and all of a sudden, the relegation battle is opened right up again. The Students play on Sunday when they face Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.
Waterford went into this game ten points better off than their opponents, but without a win in four matches.
Jacob Borg prepares to take a throw on Friday night
They gave a home debut to former Harps man, Michael O’Connor following his recent arrival from Linfield and the striker was involved in some good passages of play as the home side started well.
They had an early opportunity when after only six minutes, a corner delivered from the left by Shane Duggan was headed up and over off the crossbar by defender Maxim Kouogan.
Playing with a strong breeze at their backs in that first half, Waterford enjoyed a lot of possession and Duggan wasn’t far away from breaking the deadlock soon after when his shot from outside the box skimmed just wide.
Harps, who included new signing Josh Smith on the bench, soaked up the early pressure and they began to enjoy some welcome possession.
With Place deployed as a lone frontman, they didn’t really cause the Waterford defence too many problems. But their well organised approach ensured that home side were denied any more notable opportunities.
Harps’ first opening came just after the half hour mark. A Mark Timlin free was headed clear to Harry Ascroft and his delivery into the area was met by the head of Sam Todd but his effort flew just wide.
Then right on the stroke of half-time, Harps had the game’s best chance when following a corner kick, Daniel O’Reilly found himself perfectly placed in front of goal but his shot from close in was straight at Matthew Connor. It was a wonderful chance and O’Reilly’s reaction suggested that he knew he should have found the net.
Right after the break, O’Reilly had another great opportunity - this time his header from a Mark Russell free drifted just wide.
With Gareth Harkin really impressive in midfield and Keith Cowan and Sam Todd solid at the back, the visitors seemed to grow in confidence as the game progressed.
Mark Anthony McGinley made a smart save from Duggan, but it was Harps who carried the greater threat with Place seeing a long range strike saved.
Then Place showed lovely trickery in the box only to be brought down by Poynton and the Harps man sent the keeper the wrong with from the spot kick.
Five minutes from the end McGinley ensured the points would be going back to Donegal when he produced a wonderful reaction save to tip Kenny Browne’s point blank header up and over the bar.
Waterford FC: Matthew Connor, George Poynton, Rob Slevin, Maxim Kouogan, Kenny Browne, Shane Duggan (Karolis Chvedukas 82), Tom Holland, JJ Lunney, Michael O’Connor, Cory Galvin (Will Fitzgerald 74), Dean O’Halloran (Dean Walsh 61).
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley, Jacob Borg, Mark Russell, Sam Todd, Keith Cowan, Daniel O’Reilly, Gareth Harkin, Harry Ascroft (Niall Logue 88), Mikey Place (Tony McNamee 91), Raffael Cretaro, Mark Timlin (Caolan McAleer 65).
Referee: Robert Hennessy