Waterford FC picked up three much-needed points this evening as a 1-0 victory condemned UCD to their ninth consecutive defeat at the Regional Sports Centre.
The Blues' roller-coaster season meant they came into the match ahead of only the visitors and Finn Harps and Zack Elbouzedi's fourth goal of the season ensured the Students remain pointless away from Belfield since returning to the top-flight.
Elbouzedi was restored to the home side's starting eleven following last week's defeat at Finn Harps while Maxim Kouogun came in against his former side, with UCD unchanged from their narrow loss at home to Cork City.
While the matchwinner was threatening down the left wing from the first minute, the Students were comfortably controlling the game with the impressive Neil Farrugia firing a left footed shot straight at Matthew Connor after a nonchalant stepover in the opening ten minutes.
The home fans' frustration was growing by the minute as their side failed to stitch together any meaningful string of passes in the opening 25 minutes although they then started to grow into the game - Bastien Hery had a toe-poked effort blocked by Josh Collins after Evan Farrell gifted the ball away cheaply and the French midfielder was again thwarted by the centre half after good link up play between Cory Galvin and Elbouzedi.
The opening goal arrived in the 36th minute when Galvin delicately flicked the ball into the path of Feely who played it back to his winger. Liam Scales nipped in before Galvin released a shot but the ball deflected across the goal to Elbouzedi who drove an effort beyond Conor Kearns from a narrow angle.
Galvin and Elbouzedi nearly doubled the lead shortly afterwards and JJ Lunney inexcusably missed the target from inside the box before the break after a Hery pullback.
Just like the first half, the visitors were on top in the opening 20 minutes following the restart but they never drew the best out of Connor while Galvin saw a right footed shot narrowly drag wide at the other end. An Aaron Drinan led counter saw the striker play the ball out wide to Elbouzedi just after the hour mark and the Irish under-21 international's curling effort seemed destined for the top corner until Kearns acrobatically tipped it behind.
Farrugia nodded a difficult header at Connor after a Scales cross and the winger almost carved out an equaliser with 15 minutes left but Sean McDonald couldn't get enough on his gorgeous delivery, with the ball gently tickling across the face of the goal instead.
With the Students pushing up more space was appearing for the Blues to break into and Lunney could have clinched it having been played in by Hery only for Kearns to keep Collie O'Neill's charges' chances alive, but they couldn't find a leveller as Alan Reynolds' men saw the game out with relative ease.
Waterford FC: Matt Connor; Rory Feely, Maxim Kouogun, Damien Delaney, Georgie Poynton; Karolis Chvedukas (Griffin, 89), JJ Lunney; Cory Galvin (Akinade, 66), Bastien Hery, Zach Elbouzedi (Twine, 83); Aaron Drinan.
Substitutes: Hugo Keto (GK), Scott Twine, John Martin, Aaron Simpson, Shane Griffin, Izzy Akinade, Darryl Walsh.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Evan Farrell, Josh Collins, Liam Scales; Richie O’Farrell, Gary O’Neill, Paul Doyle (Keane, 86), Neil Farrugia; Sean McDonald, Jason McClelland (Bishop, 86), Conor Davis.
Substitutes: Gavin Sheridan (GK), Dan Tobin, Yoyo Mahdy, Danu Bishop, Jack Ryan, Dara Keane, Mark Dignam.
Referee: Robert Hennessey.