ASB Premiership - Round 14,
Porritt Stadium, Hamilton
Sunday March 25, 2012
Ryan Thomas 68' 80
Ant Hancock 16', 62'
Halftime: 0-1 Referee: Peter O'Leary Crowd:
by Bruce Holloway at Porritt Stadium
Otago United are the sixth best team in the ASB Premiership.
It's not an honour that will have them breaking out the bagpipes in Dunedin, but as far as milestones go, it easily trumps seventh-placed Waikato FC's frustrating record of going a national league season without winning at home, following a 3-3 draw at Porritt Stadium today.
The result had both coaches lamenting how it summed up shortcomings in their seasons as their respective teams failed to finish the game off.
But from the sideline it was an entertaining and skilful spectacle, made more palatable for the small home audience by Waikato scoring late goals with a flourish of stunning technical complexity from a clutch of Boy Wonders.
Otago looked to have done enough to win the match when they led 2-0, and then 3-1 deep into the final quarter.
But Waikato bounced back with two intricately skilful late goals and some rapier-like footwork from players still too young to buy themselves an after-match drink, to at least suggest they will be a real handful next summer, once they learn how to defend.
Otago took a 1-0 halftime lead through the industrious Ant Hancock, who pounced on the rebound from a snap shot from the impressive Harley Rodeka in the 16th minute. They then doubled their advantage when Hancock capitalised on Waikato's Josh Greene inadvertently back-flicking a long throw early in the second half.
But Waikato stuck back with a trademark tight , flowing, jinking move of about 15 passes down the right, involving teenagers Tyler Boyd, Mohammed Aidad, and Harry Edge, before Ryan Thomas carved inside to tuck it in the corner.
It was a goal to impress even the most dire Waikato cynic.
However just as Waikato are a joy to watch when they press forward on goal with finely honed technical skills, equally they are often all over the show when they have not got the ball.
Rodeka, who was dangerous all day down the right flank, put Otago further ahead with a great solo effort despite a fine effort by keeper Danyon Drake to thwart him.
In a match of numerous chances, Waikato then showed great fight, and no little skill, to bounce back with two stunning finishes.
Otago deserve great credit for their attacking frame of mind away from home when they only needed a draw. But Waikato were even more infectious with their crisp short-passing game. After 7-8 Waikato passes, Mohammed Awad - all 57kg of him - jinked laterally, played a couple of one-twos, and while his shot was blocked, another 17-year old, Boyd then collected and scooped the ball over keeper Peter Evans for 3-2.
Boyd then made the play down the left after more interchanges and crossed for Thomas - who is even smaller than Awad - to stoop and head home from about the penalty spot and set up a grandstand finale.
There were further chances at both ends, but no goals, and despite it being a great ad for the game, the final result left both coaches with an empty feeling.
Otago gaffer Richard Murray said securing sixth was the only thing he was happy with.
"At 3-1 up with 15 to go - you shouldn't blow that," he said. "It sums up our season. It comes down to mental aptitude. You can't fault our work rate or effort.
"Waikato play some really nice stuff but if you contain them they won't hurt you. Our option taking was not up to scratch."
Rodeka was a real menace going forward, while Hancock was busy in and around the box.
Edge sang a similar tune to Murray, though perhaps with a couple more high notes.
"It sums up our season," he said. "There was hardly anybody here to watch some unbelievable offensive play and some naive defending.
"Our play at the pointy end was exceptional today. Defensively it was an immaturity thing from very young players, but we were so exciting on attack it deserved a bigger audience.
"In future people will have to pay $120 to watch some of that stuff you saw today. And I will be telling football people, 'don't look to join in our success in future years if you weren't here supporting us when things were tough for Waikato'."
Edge was at least pleased at the manner his team fought back late in the match.
"They scrapped like hell, they didn't give up and didn't change their style and kept getting forward properly. We deserved a point."
For Waikato, Thomas was again brilliantly impish and already looks capable of playing at a higher level. Boyd and Awad were mercurial, while the Edge cousins, Jesse and Harry, put in good shifts in midfield.
For Otago, Hancock showed an invaluable eye for goal, Rodeka was a diamond down the right flank, and James Watson was the stand-out at the back.
Waikato FC now play Team Wellington at 1pm on Sunday April 1 at Gower Park in the White Ribbon Cup final. Edge is desperate for Waikato fans to digest that information.
He wants them to come and see for themselves that this is the best Waikato team ever, which has yet to win at home.
GK Danyon Drake
GK Peter Evans
2. Tyler Lissette (C)
5. Matt Joy
3. Jessie Smith
10. Ant Hancock
4. Mohammed Awad
11. James Govan
6. Mike Kramer
14. Sam Mepham
9. Michael Mayne
18. Harley Rodeka
14. Josh Greene
21. Jose Cantillo
15. Jesse Edge
25. Craig Ferguson
19. Harry Edge
29. James Watson
21. Tyler Boyd
23. Morgan Day
24. Ryan Thomas
27. Aajay Cunningham
11. Dan Looker
2. Liam Lochhart 85'
RGK. Matt Olliver
4. Jude Fitzpatrick 60'
16. Johnny Konings
12. Jackson Mitchell
18. Mohammed Aidad 65'
28. Andrew Ridden 85'
23. Jordan Shaw 65'
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Play by Play
Hello from Porritt Stadium, where it is sunny with high cloud and the chance of occasional showers, ground softened by overnight rain, and a gentle easterly. Otago players Regan Coldicott and Donnie Macgregor failed fitness tests, while Waikato have drafted youth squad players Matt Olliver and Johnny Konings into their squad. (Matteo Ballan has gone to Melbourne.)
1 min. Underway, with Waikato hogging possession
8 min. Harry edge shot from distance. Tame. Then Cantillo nearly gets the better of Drake at other end with a header.
10 min. Hancock plays in Day for an excellent openign but he shoots right at Drake.
12 min. Long shot over the top from Mepham.
13 min. Thomas over the top froma fast Waikato break through the middle.
16 min. GOAL. Rodeka has a snap shot, saved by Drake, but Hancock is on hand to bury the rebound from about 12m.
24 min.Thomas draws foul, free kick. Yellow card to Ferguson. Jesse Edge shot into wall.
26 min. Thomas into the box, Awad shoots, then heads rebound straight to Evans
28 min. Otago free kick into box, Joy heads across, scrambled clear.
30 min. Boyd runs into box, shoots across the cae of goal with a right footer.
33 min. Cunningham shoots over top, then boyd shoots straight at Evans at other end.
35 min. Hancock shot half blocked.
40 min. Slick waikato passing move creates their best chance but Thomas shoots just wide.
Half time. Plenty of chances at both ends. Still anybody's game, though otago will relish their halftime lead.
46 min. Waikato kick off. H Edge immediately a volley on the turn, over the top.
47 min. Kramer earns a corner. Awad takes, goal kick.
49 min. Rodeka shot draws fine save from Drake. Corner.
50 min. Waikato defence ina terrible tangle. Lucky to just concede a corner.
55 min. J Edge hits post from 28m. Menawhile ref O'Leary retires injured to be replaced by fourth official Mirko Bernische.
58 min. Rodeka into side-netting.
59 min. Boyd booked for tackle on Rodeka.
60 min. Rodeka great run and shot, corner.
61 min. otago sub. Fitzpatrick on for Cantillo.
62 min. GOAL. Otago flick on from a long throw, Hancock slips it home for 2-0.
65min. Great shot from Awad blocked, and from J Edge.
65 min. Kramer and Smith off, Aidad and Shaw on.
68 min. GOAL. Great sweeping move, tight passing from Waikato, between H Edge and Boyd, Aidad, and Thomas tucks it in the corner from about 6m.
70 min. Ball crawls across otago goal, nobody can prod home
71 min. GOAL. Rodeka cuts in from the right and shoots. Drake half saves, but it finds the net for 3-1.
78 min. GOAL. Another intricate Waikato attack, Awad shot blocked but BOYD dinks the rebound over Evans for 3-2.
80 min. GOAL. Boyd brilliant down the left, crosses for little Thoams to stoop and head home. 3-3
85 min. Sub for Otago. Lockhart for Joy.
Sub. Ridden for Cunningham.
89 min. Mepham over the top.
full time. 3-3. Good Waikato fightback. Full report to follow