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Waterford FC started off their 2024 Premier Division campaign on Friday night with an opening day point against Shelbourne in-front of a packed out RSC.

With over 4,000 fans in attendance in the RSC on the Blues’ return back to the top flight of Irish football, the home supporters didn’t have to wait long before celebrating their opening goal of the new campaign, when recent signing Maleace Asamoah opened the scoring in the third-minute.

Sam Sargeant collected an in-swinging Shelbourne set-piece, and quickly set Asamoah on his way to drive beyond the Shels defence before firing into the back of the net to give Keith Long’s side an early lead.

Buoyed by the strong backing of the home support, Waterford saw most of the play in the opening-half in the RSC, and almost found themselves two-nil up after just 13 minutes, only for Padraig Amond to see his header from an inch-perfect Barry Baggley cross well saved by Conor Kearns in the away side goal.

With nine minutes remaining in the first-half, the visitors carved out their first opportunity of the game, when Matty Smith got beyond his marker on the left, only to see his effort cleared by the awake Darragh Leahy, as the Blues held onto their lead at the break.

Just on the hour mark, Baggley forced Kearns into another save from distance, before Damien Duff made a use of his substitutes bench which had a big impact on the remainder of the game.

77-minutes on the clock, and as the Blues looked to be seeing out the game, the visitors got their equaliser through substitute Sean Boyd.

Will Jarvis got beyond the Waterford midfield, before a mis-hit clearance inside the Blues penalty area fell to Sean Boyd who tapped home to level the scoring.

The action didn’t end there, as just six minutes later, Boyd was shown his marching orders by referee Kevin O’Sullivan, elbowing Grant Horton off the ball in-front of the home dug-out.

The Blues pushed for the winner late on, but were unable to get beyond the stubborn Shelbourne defence. Romeo Akachukwu came closest with an effort in the eighth minute of injury-time that flew high over the Shelbourne crossbar.

A point to start of the season for Keith Long’s side, with back-to-back away trips to come in the following weeks – Drogheda United up first this Friday before a trip to Eamonn Deacy Park to face Galway United the week after.

Waterford: Sargeant (GK); Power, Radkowski, Leahy, Burke (61′ Horton); O’Keeffe, Baggley (C), McCourt; Parsons (72′ Akachukwu), Asamoah (78′ McCormack), Amond.

Shelbourne: Kearns (GK); Gannon, Temple (61′ Caffrey), Griffin (13′ Ledwidge), Molloy, Wilson (61′ Farrell); Coyle (C) (61′ Jarvis), Lunney, O’Sullivan, Smith (68′ Boyd), Burt.

Attendance: 4,390.