Waterford 4, Derry City 0
KENNY SHIELS will be counting the days until the mid-season break when he can bolster his out-of-sorts side after a sluggish Derry City slumped to an emphatic defeat to Waterford at the RSC.
The match was over for the visitors after 40 minutes when Sander Puri's unstoppable strike found the top corner to make it 3-0 and substitute, Stanley Aborah simply compounded City's miserable night in second half stoppage time with a neat finish.
However, it was two goals scored from set-pieces in the space of two first half minutes from Rory Feely and Izzy Akinade which did the damage.
Rory Patterson did hit the post on 38 minutes but Waterford were full value for the win which ensures a six point cushion over Derry in that third spot.
It was a demoralising loss - a seventh of the season - for Shiels who was hoping for better in his 100th game in charge. The Candy Stripes looked jaded after the long journey and the effects of a congested fixture list which clearly has taken its toll on his thin-bare squad.
Derry have worryingly conceded a total of 13 goals in their last four matches and 30 in the 19 league fixtures of the season so far and Shiels will be concerned about this latest defensive display.
Waterford were without a win from their previous four games and Derry had hope given the Blues lost their first game at the RSC last week against Limerick but Alan Reynolds men were far superior on the night as they secured a second win over the Brandywell club this season.
Shiels had made two changes from the team which defeated Bray 2-0 on Monday night with Nicky Low and Darren Cole returning to the starting XI at the expense of Gavin Peers and Ronan Hale who both dropped to the bench.
His counterpart made three changes from the team which lost to Dundalk at Oriel Park. Courtney Duffus, Sander Puri and Faysel Kasmi came into the team for Paul Keegan, John Martin and Dean O'Halloran, who scored the winner in the 2-1 result at the same venue back in February.
Ex-Ajax starlet, Aborah returned from his suspension but the Belgian started on the bench.
There was danger signs for Derry in the opening minutes of the game as Cole delayed his clearance and was forced to commit a foul on Akinade who put him under pressure just outside of the Derry penalty area.
Faysel Kasmi whipped it towards the back post and it was hooked away from under the crossbar and behind by Jamie McDonagh after the ball was headed back across goal.
From the resultant corner Kasmi delivered towards Kenny Browne who headed harmlessly over the crossbar.
Derry came close to the opener on six minutes after a brilliant move as Ronan Curtis crossed for Aaron McEneff who volleyed inches wide of the left hand post.
It was the home side who hit the front, however, on 12 minutes when Derry failed to clear from a corner kick and the ball broke to full-back, Feely who thumped in his second goal in two games as the Blues made their pressure pay.
Waterford had their tails up and added a second two minutes later once again from a set-piece.
Again Kasmir delivered dangerously from a free-kick and found the run of Akinade who bundled the ball past Gerard Doherty from close range for his third league goal of the season.
City did threaten to hit back through Patterson who had two chances in the space of 60 seconds. McEneff crossed invitingly towards the near post and the City striker had got across his marker but failed to get the vital touch.
Moments later Patterson almost capitalised when getting on to the end of a quickly taken free-kick but his shot from an acute angle struck the upright on 38 minutes.
That glimmer of hope for the visitors was quickly dispelled two minutes later when Bastien Hery switched the play to Puri on the left side and the midfielder hit a thunderous 35 yard drive into the top right hand corner.
It looked a long way back for Derry who faced a daunting task in the second half. Waterford were dominant in the midfield with the physicality of the two front men, Akinade and Duffus causing the City defence all sorts of problems. But it was their failure to defend set-pieces which cost them dearly in that opening 45 minutes.
Low had a couple of attempts at the Waterford goal at the start of the second half but his first effort was blocked before he hit his second wide of the target.
Conor McDermott was caught in possession 11 minutes after the break and Duffus found Akindade who fluffed his shot but Derry were fortunate not to be further behind after another defensive error.
Doherty saved well from a snapshot from Feely who was once again in an advanced position inside the Derry half as Waterford maintained control of the game.
Patterson was gifted another decent chance on 67 minutes following a terrific ball over the top by McEneff and as it dropped over his shoulder he attempted to hit it on the volley but ballooned his shot over the bar.
Duffus had a shot saved by the feet of Doherty with five minutes to go while Akinade's shot from 18 yards was gathered by the Derry stopper.
Substitute, John Martin squared the ball to Aborah deep into stoppage time who hammered the ball into the net from 25 yards to compound Derry's woes on a night to forget for the Foyelsiders.
Waterford: L. Vigouroux; R. Feely, K. Browne, D. Webster, D. Barnett; B. Hery, G, Holohan (J. Martin 82), F. Kasmi (S. Aborah 60), S. Puri; C, Duffus (D. Walsh 87); I. Akinade; Subs Not Used - N. Corbet, D. Daly, D. O'Halloran, C. Whelan.
Derry City: G. Doherty; C. McDermott (Ronan Hale 72), D. Cole, E. Toal, J. Doyle; J. McDonagh, R. Hale (N. Logue 87), N. Low, R. Curtis; A. McEneff; R. Patterson; Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, G. Peers, C. Farren, B. Doherty, A. Delap.
Referee - Rob Rogers.