Bohemian FC left it late to cement their place in third place in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division tonight with a 2-1 victory over a somewhat depleted Waterford FC on a murky evening in the South East
The Gypsies came into the game seven points behind second placed Shamrock Rovers and six ahead of Derry City and it looked like they would have to settle for a point until zero-to-hero Michael Barker snatched a late winner and saw them past the Blues, who were playing their first game in over a month after their three previous outings were postponed.
Keith Ward, James Finnerty and captain Derek Pender returned for the visitors while new signing Robert Slevin and Dean Walsh were drafted in by Alan Reynolds, the latter getting his opportunity as a result of the Blues' shortage of strikers following the departures of Izzy Akinade and Aaron Drinan.
The game started tamely with Luke Ward Slater and Shane Duggan scooping chances over in the early stages and the first testing shot arrived when Danny Mandroiu fired a low drive towards Matthew Connor's near post from the edge of the area, with the netminder pushing it wide.
Within a minute the league's form player was offered an acre of space in the final third and almost punished the home side accordingly but his 25-yard shot shaved the crossbar. Rory Feely felt his side should've had a penalty when his cross was blocked off James Finnerty's arm but it was the visitors who took the lead in the 22nd minute.
Conor Levingston gracefully controlled a breaking ball in midfield and having exchanged passes with Mandroiu, played in Ward-Slater who drilled the ball home from a narrow angle, with Feely unable to prevent it from crossing the line.
The Blues thought they had equalised just after the half-hour mark when John Martin nodded debutant Robert Slevin's perfect cross goalwards only to see the ball impressively clawed away by James Talbot but parity was restored before the break as Barker chested Feely's threatening delivery beyond his keeper.
Similar to the first half, neither side enjoyed a sustained period of pressure after the restart but the Blues looked more dangerous following the introduction of Cory Galvin.
His first involvement saw him play in Feely, who excelled providing width outside the home side's diamond in midfield, but he was thwarted by Talbot after the hour mark.
While Keith Buckley headed over it was the home side who appeared more likely to find a winner in the final quarter as Hery's charging runs through the middle launched some promising attacks, although the Gypsies attack wasn't totally dormant.
Ryan Graydon slipped into the space behind Feely but nobody was on hand to tuck in his slid pass across goal and injury time saw the Blues succumb to a low Mandroiu corner which Barker tucked into the bottom corner.
Waterford FC: Matt Connor; Rory Feely, Maxim Kouogun, Damien Delaney, Robert Slevin; Karolis Chvedukas (Griffin, 86); JJ Lunney, Shane Duggan; Bastien Hery; John Martin (Galvin, 62), Dean Walsh.
Substitutes: Paul Martin (GK), Kenny Browne, Cory Galvin, Shane Griffin, Regix Madika, Darryl Walsh Darragh Power.
Bohemian FC: James Talbot; Derek Pender, Michael Barker, James Finnerty, Paddy Kirk (Leahy, 83); Keith Buckley, Conor Levingston (Allardice, 72); Luke Wade-Slater, Danny Mandroiu, Keith Ward (Graydon, 72); Ryan Swan.
Substitutes: Sean Bohan (GK), Darragh Leahy, Scott Allardice, Robbie McCourt, Sam Byrne, Ryan Graydon, Andy Lyons.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.