Derry City 1, Waterford 2
DERRY CITY fell to a second successive league defeat at Brandywell Stadium as Waterford all but ended their challenge for third place.
It was another missed opportunity for City to mount serious pressure on Waterford and fourth placed Shamrock Rovers as the Hoops lost 1-0 to Bohemians in the Dublin derby at Tallaght.
However, a third defeat to Waterford this season leaves the Candy Stripes trailing the Blues by EIGHT points and the most realistic pathway to European football is through the Cup or the hope that fourth place once again proves suffice.
Dessie Hutchinson had handed the visitors a deserved lead after nine minutes when he linked up with Noel Hunt before firing into the net from 10 yards as Waterford began this game with real intent.
Dean Shiels then got Derry back on terms just after the half hour mark when he finished from close range but Gavan Holohan's deflected shot on the stroke of half-time proved to be the winner despite a late rally from the home side during which Ally Roy struck the crossbar.
Kenny Shiels claimed the pressure was all on Waterford to cement third spot in the build-up to the match but it was the home side who were under the cosh during the opening stages.
Waterford's Sander Puri found Hutchinson in space on the right flank on seven minutes and his dangerous cross was met by the head of Gavan Holohan at the front post. However, Aaron Splaine did enough to put him off and he headed over the bar.
Two minutes later and the ball was in the back of the Derry net as Hutchinson got onto the end of a sublime pass from Noel Hunt and planted the ball high into the net from 10 yards.
It was no more than the Blues deserved and Puri came close to a second on 23 minutes when he turned Gavin Peers inside the penalty area but his shot was deflected narrowly over the bar by Darren Cole.
From Garry Comerford's resultant corner, Izzy Akinade rose highest but directed his header wide of the far post.
Despite Waterford's dominance Derry found an equaliser when Hucthinson failed to clear Rory Hale's fizzed cross and Shiels was on hand to slot in the loose ball from close range for his first goal for the club.
Gerard Doherty breathed a sigh of relief when Hunt's drilled free-kick from 35 yards hit the side netting on 38 minutes.
Waterford regained the initiative in stoppage time when Holohan raced into the box and his shot took a wicked deflection past Doherty off the outstretched leg of Cole at the near post.
Waterford started on the front foot in the second half and Akinade raced past Peers with ease but Doherty got a touch to his shot to deflect it wide of the far post.
At the other end Roy did superbly to get in behind the Waterford defence after a long punt upfield from Cole. The striker beat two defenders when cutting back onto his left foot but sent his shot wide of the target from just inside the 18 yard box.
Doherty produced a crucial block at point blank on 64 minutes when Akinade steered Hutchinson's cross towards goal.
Hunt somehow powered his header over the crossbar from six yards when Rory Feely found him superbly with a cross from the right.
Waterford midfielder, Puri slotted the ball through the legs of Cole before his was shot saved by the feet of Doherty with five minutes remaining,
City substitute, Jamie McDonagh did well to find Roy on the penalty spot and the Scotsman's flick cannoned back off the crossbar in the final minute as the home lot pressed for an equaliser which never materialised.
Derry City: G. Doherty: D. Cole, G. Peers (J. McDonagh 87), D. Seaborne, K. McHattie; Ronan Hale, A. Splaine (B. Fisk 70), R. Hale, D. Shiels; A. McEneff; A. Roy; Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, C. McDermott, E. Toal, C. Farren, A. Delap.
Waterford: M. Connor: R. McFeely, K. Browne, D. Webster, G. Comerford; G. Holohan, B. Hery, D. Hutchinson (P. Keegan 85), S. Puri; N. Hunt, I. Akinade (D. O'Halloran 76); Subs Not Used - N. Corbet, N. Baba, D. Barrett, C. Wilson, R. Rodd.
Referee - Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan).