NZFC - Round 6, Waikato Stadium, Sunday 9 December 2007
Joe Simpkins 80
John Lang 90+2
Halftime: 0-0 Referee: Mike Hester Crowd: 200
by Bruce Holloway at Waikato Stadium
Waikato FC have finally won a New Zealand Football Championship match at home this season.
Waikato beat Otago 3-1 at Waikato Stadium, breaking a run of three consecutive losses at a venue which has been less than fortress-like this summer.
But for vast chunks of the afternoon, the match seemed destined to finish scoreless.
While both teams had periods of domination, and even the odd sweet combination, too much of the play was simply not worthy of a goal.
In fairness that was often due to the greasy surface after intermittent rain, while Otago also set the tone for the day with a determined hard-running approach in which they were able to prompt – and then feed off – Waikato mistakes.
Otago were unlucky not to be at least a goal ahead approaching the final quarter, though it must be said their finishing had a distinctive bottom-of-the-table look to it.
The game belatedly came alive in the final 10 minutes (plus four minutes of stoppage time). Waikato, having barely managed a shot all game, blasted three quick goals and then just to ice a mad-cap finish, Otago bounced back with a consolation effort in injury time.
Substitute Joe Simpkins broke the deadlock in the 80th minute by lashing home a first-time shot from outside the area after the ball had spilled to him following a throw-in from Stu Watene. He had only been on the pitch seven minutes. The goal was remarkably similar in its approach and trajectory to Sam Wilkinson’s a week earlier.
Three minutes later Waikato skipper Rob Gill produced a brilliant solo effort. There was a suggestion of off-side at the outset, but he collected the ball on the right, twisted his way infield past a couple of defenders and curled a left footer into the top corner to make it 2-0. It was an accomplished finish from a striker who knew what he was doing.
Then in the 85th minute referee Mike Hester awarded a penalty on the advice of his assistant when Luke Findley tied himself in knots in seeking to control the ball, and collapsed under a challenge from Otago keeper Liam Little.
Otago struck back in injury time, when substitute John Lang sweetly headed home from about the penalty spot a pinpoint right wing cross from Mike Smith.
Waikato coach Roger Wilkinson was happy to finally have a home win but acknowledged it wasn’t pretty.
"Unlike most people, I knew Otago would not be easy," he said. "Sometimes in football your wins are untidy.
"In some respects I feel we played better against Waitakere and Auckland, but it was hard graft today. I know we will get better."
Otago rued a glaring miss from former Waikato striker Brad Scott in the 70th minute, though goals apart, seemed to have Waikato well contained at the other end.
It was Otago’s fifth loss in six outings, and left assistant coach Mike Fridge cold.
"I can’t believe we lost 3-1," he said. "I thought we were the better team. At the very worst, maybe we should have got a point. We created a lot of chances. Had we gone 1-0 up we would have won.
"I can’t fault the boys. We came here with a positive game plan. It is a thin line between winning and losing. This is a real kick in the teeth."
Player-coach Terry Phelan was best for Otago with a cultured midfield performance.
For Waikato, David Samson recovered from a sloppy start to turn in a solid performance at right back. Waikato’s left flank was seldom productive enough, though Aaron Scott worked hard in an unfamiliar central midfield role.
Photos: Tony Whitehead www.wildlight.co.nz
NZFC - Round 6, Waikato Stadium
Sunday 9 December Kickoff 2pm
GK Dan Robinson
GK Liam Little
2. David Samson
2. Nick Dale
3. Hone Fowler
3. Terry Phelan
5. Aaron Scott
5. Kevin Taylor
6. Sam Wilkinson
6. Terry Alvino
10 Luke Findley
10. Brad Scott
12. Robert Gill
11. Andy Coburn
14. Shaun Van Rooyen (off 72)
12. Aaron Burgess
15 Steven Holloway (off 65)
15. John Chisholm
17 Stewart Watene
16. Jesse Molloy
25 Jeff Sole (off 84)
18. Mike Smith
4. Tom Edwards
7. Tom Cowan
7. Joe Simpkins (on for 14, 72 min)
8. Mike Flaws (on for 10, 72 min)
9. Jakub Sinkora (65 min on for 15
9. John Lang (66 min on for 12)
18. Stanley Waita (84 min for 25)
19. Dave Shaw
19. Junya Nakahashi
21. Ben Keat
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Otago United have been delayed enroute to Hamilton. Fog at Dunedin airport led to a late departure. The game will now kickoff at 2.15pm
Welcome to Waikato Stadium, where there has been light rain for most of the day, but this has now cleared to overcast skies, a slight easterly wind and a greasy pitch. For Waikato, David Samson will start at centreback despite being unable to train yesterday because injury concerns. Steven Holloway will have his first start, allowing Waikato to field its most attacking formation of the season.
Taylor fouls Findley almost on the goal line, out on the left, from the free kick Gill hits the wall.
Mike Smith foul, free kick 33m from goal. Gill blasts set piece just wide
Otago corner after a perceptive ball in from Phelan. Corner curls long
Gill swivells in the area but scuffs his shot
Ball over the top, Burgess offside
Otago enjoying a lot more possession after slow start.
Sle heads out for an otago corner under pressure. From the kick John Chisholm fires over the top with a left footer from 13m.
First promising Waikato attack. Holloway ball through down the left, Findley cross but no connection at the far post
Yellow Card. Holloway booked for a tackle on an Otago defender
Smith foul on Findley to the left of the area. Gill cross and Fowler heads just wide. Might have done better.
Good Samson cross has Otago in trouble.
Yellow card. Shaun Van Rooyen slides in in the wet
Stoppage for treatment to Jeff Sole.
Burgess earns a corner. Inswinger from Alvino cleared.
0-0. A scrappy half, with few meaningful attacks on goal from either side. Possession about even, though both teams struggle to keep the ball for more than a few passes.
second half underway
Phelan breaks down the left. Burgess goes down in the box, referee not interested.
Gill cuts in, long shot over top.
Yellow card. Wilkinson booked for silly tackle on Chisholm
Yellow card. Phelan booked. Like two other earlier ones, hardly deserved.
Acrobatic clearance from Taylor to deny Gill
Snap shot from brad scott goes wide
Sub. John Lang on for Aaron Burgess.
Sub. Jakub Sinkora on for Steve Holloway
Lang a free volley, lined it up and missed.
Great run from Lang down the right, perfect cross and unmarked Scott heaves it high and wide from 7m.
Lang scoops it over the top with just the keeper to beat
Sub. Joe Simpkins on for Shaun Van Rooyen
Sub. Mike Flaws on for Brad scott
Yellow card. Samson booked for bad tackle.
GOAL! Simpkins is a supersub. From a long through from Watene the ball breaks to him outside the box and he blasts it first time into the net from outside the area.
GOAL! Brilliant solo goal from Gill. Picks up the ball on the right, twisted his way infield and curled a left footer into the top corner. 2-0.
Penalty. Findley is brought down by Liam Little on the linesman's call. GOAL! Gill puts it top left for his fifth goal of the season.
Sub. Waiata for Sole
Alvino kicks the ball away in frustration at being pulled up for offside with not a defender in sight. escapes a booking.
90 + 2
GOAL! Lang heads home a sweet header from a cross from the right. otago's second of the season.
90 + 4
Final score. Waikato 3 Otago 1. Waikato's first home win.
Match report and pictures to follow.