Finn Harps secured one of the greatest of escapes with a narrow 1-0 win over Waterford. Adam Foley scored yet another crucial goal in the first-half with a close-range finish as Harps deservedly secured eighth-spot and their Premier Division status
Joshua Smith bagged his first Harps goal as Ollie Horgan’s side earned their third victory of the season against Waterford FC.
His goal in the sixth minute was enough to seal the points as the home side await the play-offs, where Cabinteely or Drogheda United lay in wait.
Waterford missed the opportunity to move above Sligo Rovers as they sit two points behind Finn Harps’ next door neighbours.
Inside the first 60 seconds, fans and players alike were dazed with confusion as a forward ball from Joshua Smith found its way to Nathan Boyle, who was flagged offside but the man in the middle seemed to overrule the call, allowing Boyle a free shot at goal, which he fired straight at Matt Connor.
Five minutes later and Harps broke the deadlock. Mark Timlin whipped in a free kick from the right side and Smith caught it well with a looping header and Connor could only watch as it nestled into the back of his net.
Waterford, who have only lost one of the last five league matches, reacted well to going a goal behind. Shane Duggan had their first opening but fired across goal from close range with JJ Lunney firing into the gloves of Mark McGinley a few moments later.
Walter Figueira was next up to attempt to change the scoreline but missed a significant connection on the end of a Kevin Lynch cross.
The tempo of the game hit a bump in the road in the minutes approaching the half hour and beyond and Raff Cretaro attempted to lift the crowd with an audacious chip from the edge of the box, one which was well saved by Connor.
Jacob Borg had the last chance of the half, deep into added time, as his lengthy run resulted in a shot into the side netting.
The visitors cried out for a penalty in the first action of note after the restart. Georgie Poynton went down under pressure from the Harps defence and the midfielder has his head in his hands in disbelief when the referee penalised him for simulation.
Waterford came close to going two goals behind with a little under twenty minutes to go, after failing to clear the ball from a Harps set-piece, it fell to the feet of Harry Ascroft but before the Australian could get his very close range shot away, Connor had the ball smothered.
Dean Walsh, fresh off the bench, looked lively and tested the Harps rearguard more than once. His first effort forced McGinley into a strong right-handed save while he had the defence beaten for his next effort but headed over after meeting a cross from Poynton.
Four minutes added time had the visitors in a hurry to get something out of the game and a last minute corner had the home fans grinding their teeth but Zachary Elbouzedi’s ball in was punched in the air by McGinley before he gathered it on the drop.