ASB Premiership - Round 6
Halftime: 0-0 Referee: M. Benischke Crowd: 412
by Cameron Russell at The Cake Tin
The game looked headed toward a dire 0-0 draw until Joel Stevens’ late strike for the visitors set-up a nervy finish.
With Team Wellington pushing to find the elusive goal, it was Stevens’ who pounced on a header from substitute Ben Fitzpatrick then calmly carried the ball thirty metres before finishing under Scott Basalaj.
Prior to the goal, the closest either team came to scoring was two minutes in when Stevens’ hit the post with a half-volley from outside the box.
Otago United coach Richard Murray threw his hands up into the air once the fulltime whistle went and he was jubilated his side finally registered a win.
“The boys have played really well this year and they haven’t got anything out of it so I’m really pleased they’ve got a result,” Murray said.
“Joel [Stevens] hit the post after a minute and the game could have turned on us but we were patient and held out and they had a lot more of the ball, but then Joel showed his class at the end to finish.”
Otago United started the game the strongest of the two and with the score locked at halftime Murray said it was important his team didn’t drop off.
“Our biggest issue is coming out of halftime and managing to keep our heads in the game,” Murray said.
“At halftime I told the lads that a good 45 minutes for us upstairs will make a good 45 minutes for us downstairs.
“I said I’d be disappointed with a point because I think we were worth three - the tide needed to turn," Murray said.
Team Wellington was forced into making three changes due to injury, and from the start it was obvious they lacked Adam McGeorge and Tobias Bertsch efforts in midfield.
Coach Matt Calcott was ultimately disappointed with the result, but did admire his team’s ability to control the game.
“I thought we passed the ball quite well and our possession was good, but we lacked an end product,” Calcott said.
“We made a change to try push on and win the game, maybe that cost us at the back, but we had to have a go really.”
Wellington looked an improved side in the second-half, and for a majority of the second 45 managed to play with the ball in the Otago half of the field.
Free-kick specialist Luke Rowe almost gave Wellington the lead when his dipping free-kick was mishandled by Liam Little, and the keeper would have been relieved to see it round the post.
With 15 minutes to go Wellington troubled the southerners from a set-piece. Henry Fa’arodo’s near post header was stopped on the line by Otago’s Tom Connor and after a scramble was cleared away.
“I thought the boys did well in the second half, Otago just defended pretty well,” Calcott said.
“In the second-half they only had two or three chances to score compared to our nine or ten.”
Wellington might be looking forward to returning to their usual home of Dave Farrington Park after losing both games they played at the stadium.
Wellington are left lingering ten points behind leaders Waitakere and two points from a semi-final spot with one round remaining before the Christmas break.
Otago United will be hoping to continue a push up the table when they host Waikato in a bottom of the table scrap, meanwhile Wellington travel to Hawke's Bay.
1. Scott Basalaj
1. Liam Little
2. Tim Schaeffers
3. Tristan Prattley
7. Wiremu Patrick (off 82)
5. Matt Joy
9. Cory Chettleburgh
8. Seamus Ryder
10. Henry Fa'arodo
9. Victor da Costa
18. Tom Doyle
12. Aaron Burgess(off 82)
20. Luke Rowe
15. Tom Connor
21. Justin Gulley
17. Tim Horner
22. Hamish Watson
21. Joel Stevens
23. Tom Biss
25. Craig Ferguson
24. Alec Solomons
27. Morgan Day (off 51)
3. Jamie Duncan
4. Benjudah Fitzpatrick (on 82)
13. Karl Whalen
14. Sam Mepham (on 51)
14. Dominic Rowe (on 82)
20. Andrew Ridden
16. Jimmy Haidakis
25. Will Jones
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Play by Play
Hey folks. Bit of a mad rush here. Logistics of a big stadium and all. Give us a couple of minutes to get the line-ups up. team Wellington missing Bertsch and McGeorge which will be a challenge. Northerly breeze and stunniong here. The sides are walking out now.
...and we're off.
From the start Otago playing with the breeze break. Shaky from Solomons results in Joel Stevens taking a sharp snap shot and hitting the post.
Right line-ups done. Stevens effort not the only one here Biss with a deep dangerous cross... and da Costa had a break but put the ball over when one on one with Basalaj
Wide right free kick for Otago is glanced behind by the Team Wellington defence for a corner. The corner is sent in and punched away by Basalaj and out.
Schaeffers with a chance. Good work from Chettleburgh send a ball in which Little palms away but in to the path of Schaeffers who so suprised to get it he knocks it over.
Biss runinng on to a through ball is dragged back. Missed by the officials.
Comedy of errors here. Ball in is cleared with the overhead kick from Horner goes straight to Chettleburgh who sends it well over. Hurricanesesque.
Prattley find himself open in the area as the ball comes over his shoulder but it really needed a volley and he tried to take a touch and was croded out by the defence.
Wellington looking okay the better side playing well, not quite getting the penalty area sorted. Credit to the Otago backline. Wellington do look vulnerable to a break though.
Crowd starting to stream in. Free kick Otago 30 yards out just to the left of goal after a collision between Solomons and Stevens. Burgess takes the kick but straight into the wall. Wellington have a chance to break but are quickly smothered.
Sorry we're a bit short of updates. Not much to report on.
Hamish Watson wins a header in the area that falls to Fa'arodo who powers his shot at Liam Little but he was offside when the ball fell to him.
Team Wellington look to break but they miss the run of Fa'arodo and find theselves trapped out wide. Biss pulls out a half dozen cut backs before the ball goes out off the feet of Doyle.
Doyle goes through Seamus Ryder and looks a certainty for a card but gets a lecture instead from referee Benischke.
This isn't great. Rowe with a foul on Burgess and the free kick is poor but the Wellington option for attack is missed as Watson sends it too long and the ball is headed back to Little.
Craig Ferguson in the book. Knocks Chettleburgh over. Free kick wide on the Team Wellington right. Delivery is too short.
The offsidathon continues. This time Prattleys' ball into Burgess is pulled back.
One minute of extra-time. Crowd petitioning them to reduce it to thirty seconds.
Jimmy Haidakis with two on the crossbar from 20 yards out in the halftime warm up. Well done!
The sides are back on the pitch. No changes at the half.
Team Wellington making the running in the early exchanges. An up and under from Biss but Little easily takes under pressure from Watson.
Hamish Watson booked for a dive. At first glance he seemed to get a shove but the replay suggest the referee had that right.
SUB: Morgan Day off for Sam Mepham
Rowe almost on the board. Free kick, 30 metres out and he has a go. Little looks laboured as he spills it and it luckily goes arounf the post.
The resulting corner is taken short and lands at Watson's feet but he blasts well over.
Good run from Chettleburgh forces a headed clearance from Ferguson over his own line. Rowe's corner is met by Solomons who for his troubles gets Liam Little's fist at the same time - right in the nose. Ouch.
Schaeffers backpass is easily picked up by Burgess but his shot one on one is blocked by Basalaj and Doyle has got back to help and clears it wide for a throw.
Another offside. This time Fa'arodo gets on the end of a dangerous cross from Biss but stepped a little early.
Seamus Ryder swings in a deep cross and Basalaj looks nervous but the ball swings wide and is escorted out by Solomons.
Team Wellington through ball and Biss runs on but it's just taken off his toes by Horner who sends it out. Resulting play from the throw is easily taken by Little.
Prattley is down injured. He taken Justin Gulleys shoulder to the head. Clumsy rather than malicious is the verdict from those in the commentary position.
Audacious shot from Fa'arodo there. on the volley after a good break.
Resulting goal kick is badly taken and Watson hits one from well out but is straight at Little. Ball is parried to patrick who sends it far post but a stretching Biss just sends it back to the keeper.
Chettleburgh booked. In frustration he's thrown the ball at the ground when called for a foul. Hearing a lot of the whistle in this match.
Burgess has a great touch for a man with a SuperGold card. He's taken the ball around two or three players before Solomons has had to lump it clear.
Rowe has played Stevens on here and he's in but Doyle has got in and made another last ditch tackle to give away a corner.
Free kick to Team Wellington. Horner and Gulley come together, didn't seem to be much in that. Resulting free kick is just tapped away by Little.
Corner almost in. Fa'arodo header is cleared off the line by Tom Connor and then the ball bounces around within a yard of the line before it is scrambled for another corner.
It's all going on here. Good play by Chettlebugh but Solomons ends up as the furthest forward. He then chases it back again and pulls out hthe backheel and sent in again but in the resulting play Rowe fouls da Costa.
SUB : Benjudah Fitzpatrick on for Burgess. and Wiremu Patrick off for Dom Rowe.
Watson holds ball up sends it across but the otago defender slips leaving Rowe with a chance which he powers over.
...and a sucker punch. From there Joel Stevens scores! The ball is flicked on by Fitzpatrick and Stevens breaks, calmly slotting under Basalaj.
Then Team Wellington go the other way fromt he kick-off but again can't fashion a chance.
Stevens reward for scoring is an early makr as he is replaced by Ridden.
Watson almost in, but Ferguson just gets to him and clears the ball. Good play.
Quick break from team Wellington. Fa'arodo and Chettleburgh but it's cleared for a corner by Prattley.
Into the four minutes of extra time and a corner comes in but Doyle who tries the far post sees it cleared off the line for a second time.
Fa'arodo with the overhead kick but it's blocked and bundled out for the corner. The resulting corner gives Otago the free kick. Seconds to go now.
Biss picks up the ball wide, sends in a good cross but Fa'arodo can't quite get on top of it and sends it just over.
Otago win! First points for the season for the southerners.