NZFC - Round 2, Waikato Stadium
11 Nov 2007
Commins Menapi 6
Halftime: 0-1 Referee: Nick Waldron Crowd: 400
By Bruce Holloway at Waikato Stadium
If New Zealand Football Championship matches were decided by a jury, Waitakere United would have waltzed home against Waikato FC.
Instead, for all their creative dominance at Waikato Stadium today, they had to settle for the smallest possible margin of victory with a 1-0 win.
Even then, it could have been a draw. Had referee Nick Waldron enjoyed the view afforded to those in the press box, he may well have awarded Waikato a last gasp penalty after striker Robert Gill crumpled under defensive pressure in the box as he prepared to turn and shoot from a Stu Watene long throw.
But that would have been an injustice. Waitakere were delightful to watch going forward, with Benjamin Totori and Commins Menapi forming a mercurial strike force, and Jason Hayne and Allan Pearce adding flair on the flanks. It was only their finishing which was remiss.
It promised to be a goal feast when Menapi put Waitakere ahead in the sixth minute, seizing on a rebound from a Dan Robinson save at close range after Totori had carved through.
But though Waitakere had two further close-range efforts ruled out for off-side, and continued to attack with a swagger for 75 minutes, that was the end of the scoring.
"Some days the goals go flying in, some days they don’t," said Waitakere football manager Chris Milicich. "When we go forward, we are difficult to stop.
"It would have been a travesty if that match had been drawn.
Jason Hayne had a field day on the right flank, while Totori was mesmerising when in possession.
"It allowed our back four to read the game and get forward."
Waikato will look back on a generally gritty performance, in which they were unable to match Waitakere’s creative flair.
Gill worked hard up front to bring other players into the game, but in defence Waikato made a number of poor errors that they were lucky to emerge unpunished from.
Robinson pulled off two improbable saves to keep the scoreline down, while Hone Fowler was the pick of the defenders.
Waikato were well off the pace in the opening 20 minutes, with their midfield barely functioning, but were a lot stronger in the second half.
Waikato coach Roger Wilkinson was furious with his defence for Menapi’s goal.
"We didn’t make the best of it," he said, in acknowledging he was frustrated by the result.
"We were slow to get going and didn’t create enough chances.
"But we showed a bit of character. In the second half we were still right in it and they were back-pedalling for all their experience."
Waikato’s Welsh import, Dale Williams, came off the bench for the last 20 minutes and showed he is continuing to improve, creating one good chance for Gill late in the match.
Elsehwere Shaun Van Rooyen put in a lot of earnest toil, but Gill appealed as the only Waikato player with a genuine nose for goal.
Waikato FC are at home again next Sunday hosting Team Wellington while Waitakere face another Sunday road trip - this time to Christchurch to face Canterbury United.
Photo: Tony Whitehead www.wildlight.co.nz
NZFC - Round 2, Waikato Stadium
11 November 2007 Kickoff 2pm
1. Dan Robinson
2. Jonathan Perry
3. Hone Fowler
5. Danny Hay
4. Jakub Sinkora
6. Darren Bazeley
5. Aaron Scott
7. Jason Hayne
7. Joe Simpkins
8. Commins Menapi (off 61)
10. Luke Findley
9. Benjamin Totori (off 90)
11. Paul Stewart (off 52)
10 Allan Pearce
12. Robert Gill
11 Neil Sykes
14. Shaun Van Rooyen
15. Christopher Bale
18. Stanley Waita (off 73)
22. Simon Eaddy
25. Che Bunce
33. Paul Seaman (off 86)
2. David Samson
1. Richard Gillespie
9. Tom Edwards
3. Shane Pascoe (on 86)
17. Stewart Watene (on 52)
4. Matt Cunneen
23. Dale Williams (on 73)
13. Daniel Koprivic (on 61)
17. Jake Butler (on 90)
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Welcome to Waikato Stadium, where the weather is fine and conditions are perfect for football,
Waikato kick off, playing towards the Seddon Rd goal.
Totori goes down in the penalty box but referee Nick Waldron waves play on
Bunce makes a blistering run forward but fails to collect a wayward ball.
Simpkins plays in a good ball from right back but Findley loses his footing in trying to receive.
GOAL!! Commins Menapi scores on the rebound after Dan Robinson blocked Totori 's initial shot from just inside the area.
Hay heads just wide from a Waitakere corner.
Hayne goes around a defender but ball goes out for a corner as Waitakere continue to dominate.
A firm Bunce tackle floors Allan Pearce just outside the area. Totori has the ball in the net but it is ruled out for offside.
Gill tries an audacious 40m chip over Simon Eady, but the ball flies over the Waitakere bar
Menapi should have scored but stabs just wide when free inside the six yard box.
Van Rooyen receives inside the penalty area but is pulled up for fouling a Waitakere defender in the process
Paul Seaman bursts into the area but Robinson collects .
Robinson makes a one-on-one save from Totori, who has carved through from the right.
Allan Pearce makes a good run but shoots high.
Gill shoots from distance after getting the better of Perry, but it is comfortably saved byEady.
Findley shoots from wide on the left with an optimistic effort
Pearce curls a shot just wide after good work down the left.
Robinson saves brilliantly from Pearce, who robbed Simpkins of the ball inside the area and looked certain to score.
Waikato are working hard, but lack the creativity of Waitakere.
Bale gives away a free kick 30m out and right in front of goal.
Waitakere kick it out from the kick off.
Hone Fowler gets a yellow card for holding
Paul Stewart gets a yellow card
Sykes takes a free kick on the right, played into the area where Seaman fouls Fowler and earns a yellow card
Totori has the ball in the net but it is ruled out for offside. Hayne got the better of Sinkora to create the chance.
Paul Stewart is injured in a challenge. Stu Watene replaces him for his first action of the summer.
Gill appeals for hand ball unsuccessfully after his cross into the waitakere area is blocked.
Gill header saved from great cross from Hone Fowler, only for seaman to then enjoy a good chance at the other end.
All hands on deck in the Waikato area as Totori wreaks havoc.
Waita and Sinkora create a half chance for Shaun Van Rooyen.
Substitute: Menapi is off and Daniel Koprivcic on for Waitakere
Aaron Scott does welllli dispossess Totori as Waitakere's attacks continue.
Totori turns nicely and shoots but straight at Robinson.
Waikato attack as news comes through that Waikato BOP have beaten United Soccer 1 2-0 in the women's national league.
Fowler is making a strong showing at the back for Waikato against his old club.
Seaman robs Waita and muscles through but has his shot deflected
Welshman Dale Williams is warming up for Waikato
Williams, very left-footed, is on for Waita and takes a position up front with Gill.
Williams introduces himself to Danny Hay with an elbow that draws a free kick.
Bunce gets a yellow card for holding Koprivvcic back
Fowler robs Hayne on the left and surges into the six yard box before being stopped.
Scott makes a great run down the right but Williams is flagged for offside.
Hayne cuts in the from the right, but his lef foot shot is well wide.
Totori loses his touch when unmarked in front of goal.
Gill passes a clever ball for Williams to run onto, but williams stands and watches.
Seaman hits the post with a header, but the whistle had gone for offside.
Eaddy makes his first real save of the afternoon, at full stretch after a great williams run makes an opportunity for Watene,
Seaman is subbed off and Shane Pascoe comes on.
Watene long throw into the box. Gill looks to be pulled down as he receives but referee Waldron won't give it.
Totori subbed for Jake Butler as Waitakere look to kill time.
Waitakere take no chances and waste time in the corner.
That's it folks. Waitakere have their first points of the season.