Shamrock Rovers reduced the gap at the top of the SSE Airtricity Premier Division to four points as they enjoyed a straightforward 5-1 victory on the road against Waterford FC at the Regional Sport Centre tonight.

Braces from Jack Byrne and Aaron Greene and a late Thomas Oluwa goal secured the three points for the Hoops to punctuate a miserable four days for the Blues, who succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to Munster rivals Cork City FC on Friday night and stand just four points above ninth-placed Finn Harps.

Both sides made three changes from their starting eleven on Friday night - Stephen Bradley introducing Dylan Watts, Gary O'Neill and Graham Cummins, while Cory Galvin, Shane Duggan and Maxim Kougoun returned for the home side, the latter allowing them to play three at the back.

Neither side's form betrayed them in the opening half and the visitors were in on goal within a minute although Kouogun recovered having earlier been caught on the ball by Aaron Greene.

Rovers peppered the Blues box with a series of corners in the opening 15 minutes - Matthew Connor stopped Roberto Lopes' tame shot after five minutes and the centre-back glanced a Byrne corner narrowly wide fifteen minutes later.

The playmaker opened the scoring in the 25th minute when, given time and space 30 yards from goal, he swerved a right footed shot into the top corner, with the Blues' net-minder only able to get a hand to it.

Byrne would double his and Rovers tally shortly afterwards.

Ronan Finn laid it off for the former Manchester City man following an advancing run and, maintaining his balance beautifully, he curled an 25-yard effort over the goalkeeper and under the crossbar. 

Waterford were pinned in for much of the half and when they did have the ball, were disjointed in attack, with Cory Galvin blazing a shot from outside the box across Alan Mannus' goal in injury time.

Following a tactical re-jig and two substitutions, the Blues started the second half much brighter with Walter Figueira and Dean Walsh linking up well up front. The latter blazed a wild shot off target after good work from his partner down the right hand side.

Aaron Greene got into double figures for the season with a brace in the RSC tonight

Figueira carved out another opportunity for his strike partner down the left before the hour mark, although the Rovers defence were on-hand to block the ball to safety.

With the home crowd finding their voice, the self-inflicted fatal blow arrived in the 60th minute as Lunney's backpass rolled perfectly into the path of Aaron Greene who calmly slotted it into the net.

And Greene would grab his 10th goal of the season soon afterwards when he lobbed the onrushing Connor after latching on to Byrne's ball in behind.

Galvin gave Byrne a run for his money in the goal of the night competition with a gorgeously arcing right footed effort into the top corner but it was too little too late for the Blues.

Walsh and Shane Duggan saw on-target efforts blocked as the minutes ticked down before Rovers' teenager Oluwa made it a night he won't regret after being laid on by Graham Burke. 

Waterford FC: Matthew Connor; Rory Feely, Maxim Kouogun, Kenny Browne, Rob Slevin, Kevin Lynch (Bone, 45); Shane Duggan, Tom Holland (Walsh, 45), JJ Lunney (Poynton, 69); Cory Galvin, Walter Figueira.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Ronan Finn (Kavanagh, 68), Ethan Boyle, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace, Sean Kavanagh; Dylan Watts, Gary O'Neill; Jack Byrne; Aaron Greene (Oluwa, 75), Graham Cummins (Burke, 40)

Referee: Rob Harvey

Attendance: 1,283

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