Derry City 4 Waterford 2 (AET)
DAVID PARKHOUSE's sensational four goal haul fired holders Derry City into the EA Sports Cup Final as they came from behind against 10 man Waterford to secure an extra-time victory at Brandywell.
The 11 times winners of the competition went behind to Waterford debutante, ex-Chelsea youth, Walter Figueira's 24th minute strike, however, Parkhouse, who netted a brace against the Blues last Monday in the league, fired the Candy Stripes level from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time to get his special night underway.
Parkhouse gave City the lead with a fantastic strike from distance on 70 minutes but Derry were pegged back with five minutes of normal time remaining as Englishman, Figueira completed his brace with a well taken volley to send the match into extra-time.
Northern Ireland U21 hitman, Parkhouse then stole the show when completing his first senior treble in the first half of extra-time before his header deflected off Kevin Lynch to send his season's tally to 16 goals in the second period to send City into the 2019 decider where they will meet either Dundalk or Bohemians next month.
Declan Devine made three changes from the team which fought back from a goal down to earn a 3-1 win at UCD on Friday night. Scottish midfielder, Grant Gillespie was handed his full debut while there was a rare start for goalkeeper, Nathan Gartside who played in the two previous League Cup ties against Longford and Finn Harps. Ciaron Harkin also returned to the starting XI as Peter Cherrie, Greg Sloggett and Michael McCrudden dropped to the substitute's bench.
Alan Reynolds made four changes from the team which lost 2-0 on their last visit to Foyleside last Monday night, with JJ Lunney, Maxim Kouogun and Michael O'Connor named in the starting line-up alongside debutante, Figueira.
Waterford midfielder, Lunney had the game's first shot on target as he tested Gartside with a low strike from distance and it skidded off the wet surface and safely into the hands of the City keeper but the Blues began with purpose.
Derry came close to finding the opener on 15 minutes as Darren Cole did well to find space on the right flank before cutting the ball back to Harkin on the edge of the penalty area and the Creggan man's curling strike hit the side netting.
Waterford broke the deadlock on 24 minutes following a series of defensive errors from Derry as Cole's header towards Gartside fell short and was intercepted by the lively Figueira who was left with the simple task of slotting into the empty net from 10 yards.
The visitors had their tails up and when the fleet-footed Figueira was fouled right on the edge of the Derry penalty area by Barry McNamee. Zachary Elbouzedi fired the resultant free-kick through the crowded penalty area and Gartside parried it clear.
The game suddenly sparked into life on the half hour mark and after a quick counter Harkin clipped the ball over the top of the Waterford defence to find the run of Gillespie and his left footed shot was charged down by Matthew Connor before the Scot's follow-up was cleared off the line by Blues' skipper, Rory Feely.
Waterford had a glorious chance to increase their lead on 39 minutes when Feely's diagonal cross from the right was met on the volley by Lunney at the back post but he fired it over the crossbar. It was a big let-off for the Candy Stripes!
Derry should've been back on terms three minutes before the break when McDonagh's dangerous low cross was fumbled by Connor and when it fell kindly to Gillespie 12 yards from goal he snatched at the chance and screwed his effort harmlessly wide with the goal at his mercy.
With 60 seconds to go before the interval, McNamee intercepted the ball and was then brought crashing to the ground inside the penalty box by a reckless challenge by substitute, Cory Galvin. Up stepped Parkhouse who sent the Waterford keeper the wrong way as he buried his spotkick into the bottom left corner for his 13th goal of the season and fourth strike in three games.
Derry pressed for a second in stoppage time and McNamee's cross deflected off the head of Browne and bounced just wide of the goal with Connor rooted to the spot as the teams went in level at the break.
McDonagh tried to catch Connor off guard with a clever free-kick four minutes into the second half but the Waterford keeper scurried across his goal line and turned the winger's long range strike behind for a corner.
Waterford were enjoying a promising spell with a series of corner kicks just after the hour mark and Lunney's effort from 20 yards took a wicked deflected off Bruna and bounced narrowly past the post.
Derry took the lead for the first time on 70 minutes as Parkhouse received the ball in space 25 yards from the Waterford goal, took a touch and buried the ball into the bottom left hand post, giving Connor no chance.
Waterford hit back with five minutes to go as Robert Slevin crossed towards the six yards box from the left side and Figueira volleyed it past Gartside from close range with a brilliant finish on his left foot.
Derry were fortunate not go behind when Lunney's free-kick needed to be clawed behind by Gartside at his near post after it deflected off sub, Michael McCrudden.
Deep into stoppage time McDonagh crossed towards Ciaran Coll and his strike on the half volley was directed towards goal by McCrudden but Connor managed to get a vital touch before Feely scrambled it clear.
Moments later Bruna crossed deep into the Waterford area and McCrudden sent his header over the bar before McDonagh tried his luck from distance with a decent effort which sailed just wide as City finished the 90 minutes strongest.
With the first action of extra-time McDonagh flashed a cross into the Waterford danger area and when it broke to McCrudden in space his close range effort was blocked on the line by Kenny Browne.
Seven minutes into the first period of extra-time Derry regained the lead as Bruna found McDonagh with a sublime pass and the winger crossed towards Parkhouse who guided it into the net to complete his first senior hat-trick.
The Blues were reduced to 10 men when Slevin was shown his second yellow card for a reckless challenge on City sub, Jack Malone in the final minute of the first half of extra-time to give Derry a huge advantage.
Malone crossed beautifully for Parkhouse three minutes into the second half of extra-time and the striker sent his effort towards goal and it appeared to get a slight touch to divert it into the net for Derry's fourth goal of the night.
Connor made two superb saves at full stretch to first deny Bruna from a 35 yard free-kick before turning Cole's strike behind as City looked for a fifth,.
The Waterford keeper had to produce an excellent finger tipped save to deny McDonagh's long range chip in the final minute but it mattered little as City continued their defence of the trophy.
Derry City: N. Gartside: D. Cole, E. Toal, A. Gilchrist, C. Coll; J. McDonagh, C. Harkin (J. Malone 88), G. Bruna, G. Gillespie (M. McCrudden 62); B. McNamee (G. Sloggett 62); D. Parkhouse (A. Delap 122); Subs Not Used - P. Cherrie, M. McChrystal, P. Ferry.
Waterford: M. Connor; R. Feely. M. Kouogun, K. Browne, R. Slevin, T. Holland (K. Lynch 115), JJ. Luney, S. Duggan (K.Chvedukas 74), Z. Elbouzedi (C. Galvin 36), M. O'Connor (D. Walsh 122), W. Figueira; Subs Not Used - P. Martin, D. O'Halloran, G. Poynton.
Referee - Robert Rogers.