Finn Harps 1 Waterford 0
A Josh Smith header was enough to secure the points as Harps won against the Blues for the third time this season. Harps knew that a win or draw would secure a playoff spot even if UCD defeated Shamrock Rovers at the Bowl. In truth it was a low-key game on chilly Finn Park evening but the hosts did enough to warrant the win.
Ollie Horgan named a relatively strong line-up, although certain players didn’t feature as another yellow card could have lead to a suspension for the playoff games.
Harps exerted pressure early on with Nathan Boyle testing the keeper, before Smith flicked his header home from a Mark Russell free kick. Waterford fought their way back into the game and had a few half chances, but the best chance of the remainder of the half came when Jacob Borg surged forward but his powerful low shot only found the side netting.
In the second half Waterford again applied pressure but Harps for the most part were solid defensively, but when they did get shots on target McGinley was equal to the efforts.
Harps had their chances as well, and Harry Ascroft looked to have doubled the lead near the 70 minute mark as he nodded a Cretaro cross towards goal, but the Waterford keeper just managed to scramble back in time.
A worry for Harps came as Mark Timlin was replaced by Stephen Doherty as he pulled up as Harps looked to break away. Next up for Harps is a Northwest derby at the Brandywell on Friday night but at this stage the main focus is the now confirmed playoff for a spot in next year’s premier division. That tie remains finely balanced at one apiece and will be decided on Friday night also at United Park when Cabinteely and Drogheda do battle once again.
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley, Jacob Berg, Mark Russell, Sam Todd, Joshua Smith, Harry Ascroft, Raff Cretaro (Niall Logue 80), Ruairi Harkin (Daniel O’Reilly 76), Nathan Boyle, Gareth Harkin, Mark Timlin (Stephen Doherty 56).
Waterford: Matt Connor, Sam Bone (Zack Elbouzedi 58), Kevin Lynch, Rory Feely (Rob Slevin 71), Maxim Kouogun, Tom Holland (Dean Walsh 71), Shane Duggan, JJ Lunney, Walter Figueira, Georgie Poynton, Michael O’Connor.
Referee: Damien McGrath