ASB Premiership - Round 6
Halftime: 0-0 Referee: M Hester Crowd: 150
by Matt Barnes at Memorial Park
It is an oft-repeated cliché that it is a mark of a quality side to win even while playing badly. If that is true, Canterbury United can take heart from their victory on a sunny Palmerston North afternoon.
Every performance indicator pointed towards a one-sided match. When these two teams met at Memorial Park last year, Canterbury racked up a record 9-1 victory.
But if the game was a certainty, nobody told Manawatu.
They were determined and well-marshalled. When Canterbury looked to play, the men in green pressured and harried. As the game wore on, their own passing game came into effect, sparked by Tyson Brandt and captain Adam Cowan, who played his best game of the season so far.
Despite the Manawatu dominance, the Dragons seemed to have more sharpness in the final third. Darren White was a continual menace on the left and first-half chances fell to Dimitar Bayrev, the best of which was a shot from a narrow angle that crashed against the outside of the post.
Manawatu took more control in the second half and the opportunities for Canterbury dried up. The lively Dale Higham and Cowan both drew saves from Adam Highfield in the Dragons goal, with the post coming to Canterbury’s rescue after a low Cowan drive had the ‘keeper beaten.
But it was Canterbury who broke the deadlock in the 74th minute.
Substitute Ken Yamamoto played a low cross along the edge of the penalty area to Russell Kamo. Unselfishly, Kamo squared it to where a rampaging White was arriving. White made no mistake with his strike, a blistering right-foot drive into the roof of the net.
Manawatu rallied, but 11 minutes later the match was sealed. A rare error from YoungHeart goalkeeper Matt Borren saw the ball spilled right to the feet of Kamo. With the open goal at his mercy, the striker made no mistake.
Canterbury coach Keith Braithwaite was quick to praise the opposition.
“We struggled a bit today because they didn’t let us play. Full credit to them, and at the end of the day we’ve come away relieved with three points,” Braithwaite said.
Manawatu coach Stu Jacobs found himself in the curious position of having witnessed his team’s best home display of the season and yet still ending up on the losing end.
“I can’t complain about the performance, it was one of the best of the past two years,” he said. “On the balance of play I thought it was one we deserved to get something out of.”
YoungHeart were particularly successful in negating the threat of Canterbury’s star All White, Aaron Clapham.
“He’s their controller and we spoke about making sure that we put pressure on him early and the boys did that.” Said Jacobs.
Things do not get any easier next week for Manawatu, as they travel to play an Auckland City team fresh from a creditable performance at the World Club Cup. Meanwhile, Canterbury United will have a chance to move to the top of the ASB Premiership when they host current league leaders Waitakere United in the match of the round.
1- Matt BORREN (GK)
22- Adam HIGHFIELD (GK)
3- Wade RANDLE
2- Dan TERRIS (C)
4- Kade SCHRIJVERS
3- Vladimir BAYREV
6- Matt KENNEDY
4- Nick WORTELBOER
8- Nathan COOKSLEY
5- Tom SCHWARZ
10- Adam COWAN (C)
7- Darren WHITE
11- Tom MOSQUERA
8- Aaron CLAPHAM
14- Tyson BRANDT (67')
9- Russell KAMO
15- Billy SCOTT
10- Dimitar BAYREV (77')
17- Jordan MARTENS
12- Andy BARTON (63')
18- Dale HIGHAM (88')
14- Josh SMITH
19- Ben WILKES (GK)
6- Chris MURPHY
2- Liam HIGGINS
15- Julyan COLLETT (70')
9- Suele SOROMON (67')
16- Ashley WELLBOURN (77')
13- Michael FRASER
20- Ken YAMAMOTO (63')
22- Grant ROBSON (88')
21- Tristan NICOL
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Play by Play
Welcome to Memorial Park in Palmerston North for this round 6 clash between YoungHeart Manawatu and Canterbury United. United go into this match on the back of white-hot form and will be looking for three points to keep the pressure on Waitakere at the top of the table. The last time these two teams met as this venue, it was a 9-1 thumping by Canterbury, but this Manawatu is a much improved side. They have been competitive in all of their matches and will be hoping to upset the predictions today.
It is a beautiful, sunny day here. There is a breeze blowing from the city end of the ground, but it should not be significant.
And we're underway - Manawatu kick-off and are playing towards the Ashhurst end in this first half.
Canterbury open pressing down the left, but Manawatu defuse the danger without too much difficulty.
Free-kick from the right for Manawatu is swung in by MARTENS, off the head of CLAPHAM for a corner.
Canterbury clear from the corner and look at move the ball around the backline to settle on possession.
COWAN puts MOSQUERA free down the left, he cuts back to HIGHAM whose shot is comfortable for the 'keeper.
Dimitar BAYREV finds space in the Manawatu box, but his shot is blocked.
Corner for Canterbury sent in by WHITE, headed clear at the near post by RANDLE.
Another right-hand corner for the Dragons. WHITE to take once more. This time, it is too deep and Manawatu are again able to clear without much stress.
Now it is Manawatu's turn to force a corner. MARTENS takes the inswinger, which goes deep. The cross back in is headed over by SCOTT.
The game is getting pretty open now, both sides looking to play attacking football.
BAYREV gets away on the left, cuts in and hammers one in from a tight angle, but it clangs away off the outside of the near post. Close one!
A very even match so far, the Manawatu defence looking much better organised than in recent matches. COOKSLEY has been pushed back there from midfield and his experience seems to be helping settle his backline.
Canterbury corner is launched towards the far post, but goes dead.
BAYREV lets fly from 20 years, but BORREN drops well to his left to make the save and hangs on.
Ball forward from KENNEDY is in behind the Canterbury line, but MOSQUERA has strayed offside as he sets off after it.
A free kick on the left from HIGHAM is swung in, but it is behind COOKSLEY and he can only get a glancing touch on it to concede the goal kick.
A tight offside call against MOSQUERA and his disagreement with the flag earns him a word from the ref.
Free kick to Canterbury. Vladmir BAYREV goes short to WHITE, but his run is covered and his shot is well wide from a narrow angle.
A period of sustained pressure now by Manawatu. Canterbury are camped in their own penalty area, but weather the storm.
Manawatu immediately swing back onto attack and force a corner. MARTENS sends it short and SCHRIJVERS almost gets on the end of it and it is deflected away for a corner. This one goes too deep and Canterbury survive.
First card of the match goes to WHITE after a bad challenge in midfield on MARTENS.
Corner for Manawatu and COWAN climbs high, but his header is a metre wide of the far post.
Free kick in midfield is launched forward by CLAPHAM, but BORREN comes for it and claims well.
MOSQUERA breaks onto a through-ball by COWAN, but Vladimir BAYREV has his measure and dispossesses him for Canterbury before the league's top scorer can get a shot away. And the referee immediately blows for half-time. Canterbury started well, but Manawatu have really taken over. They are pressing well and the Dragons have been forced to try and build from the back, but they have struggled. YoungHeart have grown in confidence as the match progresses and an upset is looking on the cards unless coach Keith Braithwaite can fire up his Canterbury side in the changing rooms.
The second half gets underway with Canterbury kicking off. No changes at the break for either side.
Manawatu have come out with purpose. A flowing move sparked by BRANDT sweeps the length of the pitch and ends with HIGHAM blazing a shot wide.
Canterbury win a corner on the right. WHITE will once again send this one in. It bounces around in the box, but Manawatu manage to clear.
BRANDT sends forward to MOSQUERA who unleashes COWAN on an overlapping run. The Manawatu captain lashes in a right-foot shot, but it rebounds off the outside of the post for a goal kick.
Another corner by WHITE, but TERRIS' header down bounces up easily into the arms of BORREN.
Canterbury are starting to get more of the game now. A shot from the edge of the box from WHITE is deflected over and the left winger shouts is frustration.
HIGHAM cuts inside and hits a fierce drive, but HIGHFIELD is down quickly to parry.
KAMO receives a long ball, switches back onto his right, but his shot across goal goes high and wide.
Manawatu press once more. This really is like a different side to the team that last played at Memorial Park. COWAN drills a low shot with his left, but HIGHFIELD is again up to the challenge.
First change coming up for Canterbury. Ken YAMAMOTO is on for Andy BARTON.
A late tackle in midfield earns CLAPHAM a yellow card.
And now Manawatu make their first substitution, and it's an attacking one with Seule SOROMON joining proceedings while Tyson BRANDT, who has been very active in midfield, makes way.
Free kick swung in for Manawatu. HIGHFIELD fists away, but only to the feet of COOKSLEY, but his shot is into the side-netting.
COLLETT is on now for Canterbury.
Goal! Ken YAMAMOTO is away and squares to KAMO who unselfishly plays it into the path of WHITE who makes no mistake, smashing it into the back of the net.
Canterbury substitution. Dimitar BAYREV makes way for WELLBOURN.
FRASER on for RANDLE for Manawatu.
Manawatu piling it on now, searching for that equaliser. A corner from the left by HIGHAM, but Canterbury head it away.
Oh, no! BORREN spills one right to the feet off Russell KAMO, who gratefully slots it into the empty net. Manawatu are going to feel like this was a game that got away.
Canterbury corner is sent in and KAMO rises highest at the near post, but his header is just over the bar.
Grant ROBSON getting sent into the fray now for Manawatu, the impressive Dale HIGHAM making way.
Time for another Darren WHITE corner. SCHRIJVERS heads it away.
Into added time. Things are very stretched now, with loads of empty space in midfield. MARTENS charges into the Canterbury box, but loses control and the ball is out for a goal kick. That might be Manawatu's last chance.
Indeed it is - there's the full-time whistle. Canterbury get the win as expected, but the manner was anything but according to the formbook. Manawatu probably had the best of the game, but couldn't quite create the clear chances they needed. They will no doubt see this as one they should've at least gotten a point out of it, while for the Dragons it extends their winning run and keeps them in the title hunt.