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Derry off to slow start as Aganovic's debut strike proves in vain

Waterford United 2 Derry City 1

By Eoin Wilson

Derry City fell to defeat in the first game of the season as newly-promoted Waterford staged a rousing comeback in torrential conditions at the RSC last night.

The game was in doubt right up to the first whistle due to the poor weather with the club even asking for volunteers from the stands to sweep water off the pitch before the game was given the go ahead.

It looked a fortunate decision for Derry, who took the lead early.

The goal came on 19 minutes when Ben Doherty was fouled in a dangerous position. Aaron McEneff's curling delivery was perfect for Armin Aganovic, who sneaked unmarked to the back post and sent a diving header past Niall Corbet and into the net for a debut goal for the Candystripes.

The home side were finally celebrating after a frustrating first period, with the equaliser coming on 43 minutes.

The goal owed a lot to the efforts of Ismahil Akinade. The striker caused that much concern among the City defence that he took two defenders with him for what proved to be a dummy run, and that allowed Gavan Holohan to run to the edge of the area and drill a low effort under the dive of Gerard Doherty and into the net.

Akinade continued to prove a handful in the early stages of the second half, twice going down in the area looking for a penalty only for referee Robert Hennessey to ignore his appeals both times.

Nevertheless, the City defenders were really struggling to cope with the big striker and they got off the hook again on 50 minutes when he connected with a cross from Dean O'Halloran but glanced his header just wide of goal.

Kenny Shiels withdrew Jamie McDonagh for Ronan Curtis on 55 minutes, the Derry boss not happy with the early stages of the second period with his team struggling to get their foot on the ball.

Akinade was everywhere for Waterford and he looked to have turned Darren Cole superbly just past the hour mark, but instead of attempting a run through on goal, the striker threw himself to the ground in an attempt to win a free-kick, but only received a caution for simulation.

Waterford were looking the more likely as the game approached the 70-minute mark, with City players labouring in very difficult conditions. However, that almost changed spectacularly when goalkeeper Corbet sent a poor clearance straight to McEneff, who attempted to catch him off his line.

However, his shot from 30 yards just dipped over the crossbar.

But just as Derry were pushing forward, they were caught out at the other end. A superb backheel from Stanley Aborah caught the Derry defence cold and Holohan crossed to the back post where O'Halloran arrived to finish off a brilliant move with a simple goal on 77 minutes.

Waterford: Corbet, Comerford, Browne, Keegan, Holohan, O'Halloran, Feely, Webster, Hery, Aborah (Barnett 80), Akinade.

Derry City: Doherty, McDermott (Kayode 81), McEneff, Aganovic, McDonagh (Curtis 55), Hale, Patterson, Cole, Doherty, Hale, Low.

Referee: R Hennessey.

Belfast Telegraph

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