ASB Premiership - Semi final (second leg)
Aaron Clapham 13'
Ryan De Vries 12', 87'
Halftime:2-1 Referee: Mirko Benischke Crowd: 1400
by John Donnachie at ASB Football Park
Four goals in the second half, including two in a devastating sixty second spell from Jake Butler and Roy Krishna, consigned the Dragons to their first home defeat of season.
It was also the champions’ first win over Canterbury in over a year, they had lost the previous four meetings before today. Moreover, the result effectively finished the Dragons season and killed off their O-League dreams as events in Auckland completed a day of heart break for Canterbury fans.
Canterbury led 2-1 at the interval with goals from Aaron Clapham and George Slefendorfas, after Waitakere striker Ryan de Vries had put the champions into a short-lived lead- with a goal straight out of the Lionel Messi school of dribbling and finishing.
The match was turned on its head right after the break. First, Jake Butler rose unchallenged from a Ross McKenzie free-kick to head home easily. Then, striker Roy Krishna showed his predatory instincts latching onto a short Mark Johnston pass back to score at the second attempt after Dragons keeper, Highfield had blocked his first effort.
Talismanic Dragons captain, Aaron Clapham, then left the field immediately after with an arm injury. It was later revealed he had been playing through the pain barrier with a bicep tear.
The killer blow arrived just after the hour mark. Sean Lovemore who had caused problems throughout with his deceptive pace picked out the equally elusive Roy Krishna who clipped a neat shot past Highfield at the far post on 63 minutes.
Krishna’s goal saw the momentum swing back the way of the champions and when Mark Johnston was sent off for dissent with six minutes left, Canterbury’s fate was all but sealed.
A crisp finish three minutes later by de Vries merely confirmed the champions’ superiority over a game but ultimately well beaten Canterbury side.
Waitakere coach, Neil Emblen was brimming afterwards.
“We managed to lift the intensity throughout the match. Right from the start, we played like it was our last game of the season,” Emblen said.
Emblen said the key to the win was all his players had won their own personal battles.
“All our big guns fired today, Chris Bale and Matt Cunneen linked well together at the back, but from one to eleven we were very good,” he said.
Emblen’s opposite number Keith Braithwaite was gracious in what was a heart-breaking defeat.
“Ï am gutted for the team, we've had a great year but it just was not our day today. Waitakere punished us today. The pace they have up front was frightening at times,” he said.
Braithwaite said the loss of key forwards leading up to the game and then the injury to Aaron Clapham, proved that the difference. But Braithwaite remained upbeat.
He said: “For us to finish second in the league from where we were three years ago makes me proud of the players and wider squad.”
Waitakere coach Neil Emblen, could have been excused for turning his attention to the Grand final next week, but he still had words of comfort for the beleaguered Dragons.
1. Adam Highfield
1. Danny Robinson
3. Mark Johnston
3. Aaron Scott
5. Tom Schwarz
6. Matt Cunneen
8. Aaron Clapham(cpt) (Dirou, 51')
7. Martin Bullock
9. George Slefendorfas
8. Chris Bale
10. Russell Kamo
10. Alan Pearce
11. Michael White (Terris, 46')
11. Ross McKenzie
13. Daniel Gloizer
12. Roy Krishna (Turner, 72')
14. Josh Smith
17. Jake Butler (cpt)
15. Julyan Collett(Wortelboer, 70')
20. Ryan De Vries(Vale, 89')
20. Ken Yamamoto
25. Sean Lovemore
2. Dan Terris (White, 46')
16. Neil Emblen
4. Nick Wortelboer (Collett, 70')
22. Matt Upton
18. Paul Dirou (Clapham, 51')
27. Ross Haviland
19. Calvin Opperman
28. Jordan Vale (De Vries, 89')
1. Tom Batty
29. Rory Turner (Kristna, 72')
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Play by Play
Welcome to ASB Football Park, Christchurch, for the 2nd leg semi final tie. Canterbury are in the driving seat with a 1-0 lead from Auckland last week. But champions Waitakere have been in this position before-and come back- so this will be a tough hurdle for the Dragons. Moreover, Waitakere have Roy Krishna and Ryan De Vries in their starting line-up.
1' WAITKERE'S Ryan De Vries makes a dangerous run but his crowded out near corner flag
3' OFFSIDE CANTY as KAMO threatens on edge of box
4'MARK JOHNSTON CANTY makes timely intervention as KRISHNA moves onto ball inside box.
5 MCKENZIE corner headed over by BALE
'7'Indecision in WAITAKERE defence almost sees SLENFENDORFAS in on edge of WAITAKERE box
9'DE VRIES shoots over from 15 yards out- visitors looking sharp early doors.
12' GOAL- DE VRIES with great individual brilliance out runs Gloizer gets in box beats Schwarz and Highfield and scores inside near post- great skill- Messi-like dribbling and finish from DeVries
14'GOAL- CLAPHAM SCORES- captain marvel latches onto a through ball rounds ROBINSON before shooting home.
16'What a game! end to end. both defences under the pump
18'HIGHFIELD stands tall and blocks DeVRIES who had outrun CANTY defence and looked set to score.
20' MCKENZIE takes WAITAKERE corner- comes to nothing
22' Finally getting a breather here after an explosive five minute spell
23'WAITAKERE CORNER- CUNNEEN hits the bar from MCKENZIE corner ball eventually goes out off another Waitakere head.
26' FREEKICK CANTY- CLAPHAM 35 yards out- midfield, comes to nothing
27'LOVEMORE almost unlocks CANTY defence great run and cross but CANTY defence scramble it away in front of goal.
30'GOAL- CANTY- SLEFENDORFAS- WHITE plays in the ASB PREMIERSHIP top scorer and he races in unchallenged to shoot past ROBINSON
33' BULLOCK BOOKED for challenge on JOSH SMITH in middle of the field
36' Visitors almost back in the match DeVRIES shoots wide after Canty defnce misjudged a cross into the box.
39' LOVEMORE lucky not to be booked after clumsy challenge on Canty's Michael White near touchline
41'LOVEMORE tests HIGHFIELD with nice turn and shot from 15 yards out
44' COLLETT intervenes with great tackle as KRISHNA threatens inside 6 yard box.
45'SLEFENDORFAS brings save out of ROBINSON from edge of box.
CLAPHAM taken out late on far touchline.
46' CANTY SUB- TERRIS on for WHITE. Meanwhile KRISHNA fails to connect to cross- heartstopper for home fans.
48' GOAL- BUTLER scores of MCKENZIE freekick from 35 yards out
49'GOAL-KRISHNA intercepts short pass back from MARK JOHNSTON and runs across box to score after block by HIGHFIELD
50' More bad news for CANTY- CLAPHAM OFF with injury PAUL DIROU ON
55' COLLETT BOOKED for challenge on far side
56' The champions now in the lead overall courtesy of the away goal rule
59' LOVEMORE almost scores after good leading work from KRISHNA and DeVRIES- just shoots wide across HIGHFIELD'S goal
62'SLEFENDORFAS almost finds KAMO with deep cross
63' GOAL WAITAKERE KRISHNA scores of a pinpoint cross To the far post from LOVEMORE
65' CORNER CANTY YAMAMOTO- foul follows.
66'LOVEMORE almost scores a fifth goal for Waitakere but his shot hits the bar
70' CANTY SUB- NICK WORTELBOER For COLLETT
71' WAITAKERE SUB- KRISHNA OFF RORY TURNER ON
73' CANTY need a small miracle- 2 goals in the last quarter- hard without the talismanic Clapham.
75' GLOIZER FREEKICK TERRIS header takes deflection for corner.
76' Nothing from corner- But KAMO turns sweetly in the box and brings a good save out of ROBINSON of a GLOIZER cross from the corner
77'RORY TURNER put in with defence splitting DEVRIES pass but his shot comes off the post and is kicked clear by CANTY defence
80' JOHNSTON BOOKED for holding onto DeVRIES out wide
81' CUNNEEN BOOKED for clumsy tackle
83'GLOIZER freekick causes havoc looks like a penalty for CANTY but referee waves away appeals.
84' MARK JOHNSTON SENT OFF FOR DISSENT following controversy around penalty claims
87' DeVRIES finishes off contest with a crisp finish from inside the box
89' WAITAKERE SUB-DeVRIES OFF FOR JORDAN VALE
90X4 GAME OVER