SAVA SUPREME AS THE MONS PROVE THEIR PROMOTION CREDENTIALS

26 August 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan United 3
Waterford United 1

TIn a week that saw some national newspaper commentators make light of Monaghan United’s promotion credentials, Roddy Collins’ charges offered the perfect riposte with this stirring come-from-behind victory over a powerful Waterford United side at Gortakeegan on Friday night, writes Peter Hughes.
The win, which gives the Mons some vital breathing space over Limerick in the Airtricity League Division One battle and brings them within a point of Cork City with a game in hand over the Leesiders, was accomplished on the back of some irresistible football which brought goals for Sean Brennan, Jordan Keegan and late substitute Michael Isichei after Waterford had shocked the home side with a score seconds after the kick-off.
But the essential contribution on the night was made by Gabriel Sava, the Italian goalkeeper excelling to defy the visitors at a time in the game when the outcome was still very much in the balance. One of his saves – an extraordinary piece of reaction to keep out an Adam McSherry volley – verged on the unbelievable; three or four more were merely outstanding.
Going behind after 20 seconds wasn’t in the Mons’ game plan, but that was what the dilemma that confronted them when they squandered possession from the kick-off. Waterford’s McSherry stole a march on the home defence to seize onto a long ball from midfield and find the space between Sava and his near post with an emphatic shot.
As Roddy Collins dispatched new defensive signing Willlo McDonagh for a warm-up, sending a clear message to his side, United strove to gather up the threads of their normally assured passing pattern.
They threatened in the eighth minute when Sean Brennan’s march towards the box was illegally halted by Seamus Long, who was yellow-carded. Sean himself tried his luck from the free-kick but his low driller failed to get through the first line of the Waterford defences. A minute later Ryan Brennan turned on the ball 25 yards out but his meaty effort arrowed straight into the breadbasket of keeper Kevin Burns.
Composure restored, the Mons started to examine the soundness of the Waterford backline with seriousness, stretching it to the limit when John Reilly’s measured cross found the head of Fabio O’Brien (13) only for Kevin Murray to intervene at the expense of what proved an unproductive corner. Sean Brennan won another free-kick in the 22nd minute, and this time his low drive got through but Burns saved comfortably.
A free-kick conceded by a mistimed Eric Foley tackle saw Waterford threaten again, Alan Byrne intervening to turn Kevin Murray’s header behind for a corner. Byrne, and the unobtrusively excellent Aidan Collins, had done much to steady their side’s initially leaky defensive ship
United conjured their equaliser in the 26th minute, and it was an exquisite one – Jordan Keegan’s graceful through pass matched by Sean Brennan’s accomplished chipped finish over the advancing Burns.
Some full-tilt play ensued, Paul Murphy strafing the Monaghan box with a dangerous ball from the right; the Mons responding with some deft interplay between Declan O’Brien and Keith Quinn which failed to yield a breakthrough, although Quinn came close minutes later when he swivelled on the edge of the box and unleashed a left-foot drive that was just wide.
Kenny Browne made a vital headed clearance from Ryan Brennan’s cross as Roddy Collins’ men treated the home fans to some sharp, sweeping football.
The pressure yielded its rewards in the 38th minute. Waterford seemed to have stemmed the threat posed by Sean Brennan’s mesmerism on the right flank, but the ball was only partially cleared and United swiftly recycled it with a series of incisive passes that ended with Jordan Keegan’s slick close-range finish.
A rampaging Keith Quinn was taken down by Paul Carey soon afterwards – another Waterford booking – with Sean Brennan’s whipped free-kick effort swinging about a foot high of its target. Then Brennan played a deft pass into the pathway of O’Brien, whose shot on the run brought an outstanding block from Burns.
Full report in The Northern Standard

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