Fred Taylor Park, October 17 2010
Own goal (Jamie Duncan) 8
Halftime: 1-0 Referee:Mirko Benischke Crowd: 483
by Bob Pearce at Fred Taylor Park
It took 92 minutes but finally Waitakere United produced a champion-worthy goal to seal their 2-0 victory over Team Wellington in their ASB Premiership opener at Fred Taylor Park yesterday.
Perhaps appropriately it was scored by player-coach Neil Emblen, a 64th minute substitute, with an assist from another sub, Mike Gwyther, making his debut for the West Auckland club.
To be honest the previous hour and a half had been early-season football at its most disjointed. Waitakere had gone ahead in the eighth minute when a Wellington defender's clumsy clearance attempt only succeeded in putting Martin Bullock's freekick into his own net.
From then on there was end-to-end action but very few combinations and too much frantic football with giveaways and takeaways galore but only rarely deliveries at the right address.
Both sides squandered plenty of chances and Wellington lived to regret a missed penalty three minutes after the break when Andrew Abba was brought down on the very edge of the penalty area.
Michael Eagar, who in every other phase had a strong game in the Wellington midfield, stepped up to the spot kick and blasted it wide. The visitors dominated much of the second spell with the speedy Abba in particular carving holes in an unusually porous Waitakere defence.
But chance after chance went begging, goalkeeper Andy Ralph earned his keep on debut and Waitakere retained their slender lead.
In the 80th minute Waitakere defender Neil Sykes got his marching orders for a studs up tackle on Eagar, but strangely 10 men seemed to combine better than 11 and the initiative switched to the home team.
Emblen had backed his 20 years of extra experience as he replaced Ryan de Vries but at the start of his stint it seemed his team-mates couldn't connect with his skills in the air in front of goal.
Gwyther, who played for Waikato last season, came on with six minutes of regular time left and he must surely have earned a starting chance when he laid on the penetrating pass that his coach drove powerfully just inside the left-hand upright to clinch the three points.
Wellington coach Stu Jacobs was disappointed by the loss but encouraged by the football his team played, particularly in the second spell.
"We had five or six clearcut chances and we didn't make the most of them," he said. "If you don't kill Waitakere off they'll come back and bite you.
"I thought we played a good brand of football but you've got to make the most of those periods when you dominate."
Emblen was plainly relieved to take the three points - he'd said at halftime that he'd take a 1-0 ugly win - but he had no illusions that improvements will be needed.
"There was an awful lot of turnover by both teams and the game was far too open for our liking," he said.
"We rode our luck when we needed it and Andy made a superb save from a header. I thought Roy Krishna was superb up front But we've got a lot of work still to do."
Emblen had no argument with the red card, having seen a similar tackle punished in the Arsenal game overnight.
"We emphasise discipline at training all the time. We don't want to be playing with 10 men. But we passed the ball better with 10 men. It's unbelievable."
Waitakere play an O-League game against AS Tefana at the Fred next Sunday. Wellington have a week off.
1 Andy Ralph (GK)
1 Phil Imray (GK)
2 Jason Rowley
2 Scott Robson
3 Aaron Scott
3 Jamie Duncan
6 Jack Pelter
4 Michael Eagar
7 Martin Bullock
5 Jamie O'Connor
8 Chris Bale
6 Mikey Halikias (Te Anau 58)
10 Allan Pearce (Gwyther 84)
7 Wiremu Patrick
11 Neil Sykes
10 Michael Fifii (McClay 63)
12 Roy Krishna
11 Andrew Abba
18 Zane Sole (Pett 84)
13 Karl Whalen
20 Ryan de Vries (Emblen 64)
14 Hicham Kamri (Tado 58)
13 Michael Gwyther
21 Pomare Te Anau
16 Neil Emblen
12 Emiliano Tado
19 Dakota Lucas
15 Richard McLay
23 Ashton Peat
25 Scott Basalaj (RGK)
28 Danny Robinson (RGK)
=2 yellow cards
= red card
So what happened to summer. Sunshine for Waikato in Hamilton yesterday. Grey skies and misty rain for Waitakere at the Fred.
Waitakere have new signing Michael Gwyther on the bench alongside coach Neil Emblen. Wellington bring a host of new faces to the north
Late change Ralph replaces Robinson in Waitakere goal.
Waitakere quickly on attack, cross by Pearce headed wide by Sole.
Fifii felled in tackle but ref waves play on.
Lot of kick and hope from both sides with no pattern
Pearce earns first corner on left. Easily cleared.
GOAL! Freekick to Waitakere, Bullock curls it in Pelter heads towards goal and clumsy attempted clearance end in net. Messy but they all count.
Waitakere dominating midfield while Wellington struggle to feed their strikers.
Fifii feeds Eagar whose header is scrambled away by goalie. Wellington's first real chance.
Pearce makes ground on left and Krishna draws good save from Imray. Bale gets yellow for pushing at resulting corner.
Miskick leaves de Vries free in penalty area but his shot is miscued and easily saved.
Fifii probes but last pass goes astray. Neither side looking too secure in defence.
Another left wing corner for Waitakere. Easily cleared.
De Vries blocks Imray clearance, ball bounces clear of goal but de Vries hurt.
Abba makes gound in penalty area but hangs on too long with team-mates waiting.
Krishna does well to collect long pass from Sykes but his shot goes wide.
Scott's lunge takes ball off Abba's foot as he shoots for empty net. Corner easily cleared.
Abba creates opening but again shoots wide.
Abba again danger but well tackled
45 plus two
Robson gets yellow for fouling Krishna on way to goal. Freekick straight at wall. Halftime whistle blows after a messy first spell.
Real early season game with combinations failing to gel and everything a bit frantic at both ends. More goals seem likely!
No changes at the break.
Abba tripped on edge of area. Penalty awarded but Eagar shoots wide. Penalties seem to be a tough ask up this way!
Krishna curls shot just over top as Imray looks on anxiously
Wiremu Patrick booked for tackle on Krishna. Bullock freekick bounces clear off crossbar.
Quick break by Abba foiled by goalie who earns yellow for challenge.
Wellington sub Kamri off Tabo on.
Another Wellington sub. Te Anau for Halikias.
Abba crosses from left and Te Anau just fails to connect in front of goal.
Last Wellington sub McClay on for injured Fifii
Emblen on for de Vries
Corner cleared by Imray as Emblen looms large.
Tado takes speculative shot but it curls wide.
Yellow for Abba for deliberately handling.
Miracle of miracles, the sun has come out.
Te Anau creates space but Abba shoots wide.
Yellow for Bullock tackle on Abba. Goalie punches clear
RED CARD Sykes for two-footed tackle on Eagar.
Bright sunshine but the football doesn't match the weather. It's been dire for the last 15 mins.
Double sub for Waitakere. Gwyther on for Pearce Pett for Sole.
Robson crosses and clearance almost rebounds into goal.
Bullock freekick sails over bar.
Four minutes of time to be added
90 plus one
Corner to Wellington Tado heads over bar.
90 plus two
GOAL! Krishna to Gwyther to Emblen who buries it low and hard.
90 plus four
Fulltime and Waitakere take the three but it was hard work