NZFC - Round 7, Fred Taylor Park, 15 December 2007
Commins Menapi 65, 73
Halftime:0-0 Referee: James Thian Crowd:350
by Bob Pearce at Fred Taylor Park
Waitakere United eventually won a war of attrition 4-0 against Otago United at Whenuapai but their fans were far from happy with 25 minutes to go.
The southerners, bottom of the table and winless this season, defended in numbers and frustrated Waitakere for 65 minutes before Chris Bale threaded a pass through the defence, Graham Pearce laid on the cross and Commins Menapi provided the finish.
From then on in it was a familiar story for Otago. They tried to fashion a counter but the gaps appeared in their defence and Waitakere capitalised.
Menapi atoned for missing an easier chance when he fired a dipping shot from 30 metres in the 73rd minute, which gave goalkeeper Liam Little no chance. Nine minutes later Jake Butler, who had replaced Paul Seaman, twisted his body cleverly to chest home a cross from Allan Pearce.
The fourth goal came to another second-half substitute, Daniel Koprivcic, who finished a concerted attack in time added on.
Waitakere coach Chris Milicich insisted that he was never worried that his team would fail to break down Otago's defences, which often saw nine players defending and John Lang playing the lone ranger role up front.
"They were the most negative side I've ever seen," he said. "We couldn't get round them or over them so we had to be a bit clever. When we saw the way, we got through.
"I thought we played some good football. We passed well and we moved well and Neil Emblen did a superb job at the back."
Milicich credited the roles played by substitutes Butler and Koprivcic in breaking down the defence and creating opportunities that had few and far between in the first half.
One of the key moments in the game came in the 57th minute when Otago player-coach Terry Phelan left the field with a groin injury. He may be 40 going on 41 but was the marshal of the smothering defence.
"They're a quality side and we haven't got that side," Phelan said. "I didn't think they were worth four goals. When one player comes off, it shouldn't make such a difference to a side.
"We performed brilliantly in the first half, but one change in the second half and we fall apart."
Piqued by criticism of his defensive tactics, Phelan countered: "What are we supposed to do, come out and attack away from home. I couldn't give a damn what the other coach thinks."
Otago have now gone 23 games without a win but Phelan insists he's no quitter.
"I wish people would give us a break," he said. "It's very hard to get experienced players down to Dunedin. You can't buy experience. They've got experience right through their squad and we haven't."
Waitakere were without two of their most experienced players. Danny hay dropped out with bronchitis and Darren Bazeley had work commitments. Both are expected back for the clash with Wellington next Sunday.
Otago get a chance to put their feet up over the Christmas break but the hard work begins again on January 5 at home to Canterbury United.
Photos: Shane Wenzlick www.phototek.co.nz
22 Simon Eaddy GK)
1 Liam Little (GK)
2 Jonathan Perry
2 Nick Dale ( 69)
7 Jason Hayne ( 52)
3 Terry Phelan ( 59)
8 Commins Menapi
5 Kevin Taylor
9 Benjamin Totori
6 Terry Alvino
10 Allan Pearce
9 John Lang ( 61)
11 Neil Sykes
11 Andy Coburn
15 Chris Bale (78)
15 John Chisholm
16 Neil Emblen
16 Jessie Malloy
21 Graham Pearce
17 Croyden Wheeler
33 Paul Seaman (59)
18 Mike Smith
1 Richard Gillespie (RGK)
12 Aaron Burgess ( 61)
4 Matt Cunneen
19 Dave Shaw
14 Hoani Edwards (78)
7 Tom Connor ( 59)
13 Daniel Kopravcic (52)
14 Chad Severs ( 69)
17 Jake Butler (59)
= Sub On
= Sub Off
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Danny Hay is a late defection from Waitakere. Graham Pearce comes into the team. Otago welcome back Chad Severs but he starts on the bench. Hot and humid but with a breeze from the north.
Waitakere playing with wind in first half
John Lang shot saved by Eaddy
Wheeler hurt but recovers
Sykes mispass puts Lang clear but he fails to profit
Otago are getting nine men behind the ball and Waitakere attacks are frustrated by lack of control
Freekick by Perry earns corner, falls to Sykes headed clear by Chisholm. Otago living dangerously
Allan Pearce does well to cross from right but nobody there to finish off.
Wheeler caps good movement with weak shot. Easy for Eaddy
Long-range shot by Allan Pearce finger-tipped over bar by Little. Still no score.
Alvino crosses but smother tackle by Emblen saves the day
45 mins plus one
HALFTIME-0-0 after a fairly even first half. Waitakere too innacurate against an unambitious Otago
Shots by Seaman and Hayne in the oening minutes of the second half, but Little isn't tested.
SUB Waitakere - Daniel Kopravcic replaces Jason Hayne
Terry Phelan looks like he's got a groin strain. Goes down, games stops.
Totori wriggles free to get inside the six yard box, but his shot towards the back post hits an Otago leg on the line and is scrambled clear
SUB Otago - Tom Connor comes on for an injured Terry Phelan
SUB Waitakere - Jake Butler comes on for Paul Seaman
Menapi misses from eight yards after Totori creates an opening.
SUB Otago - Aaron Burgess replaces Otago's lone ranger up front, John Lang
GOAL! 1-0 Menapi finishes at the far post. He meets a deep cross form Graham Pearce, who was set in space on the right by Chris Bale.
SUB Otago - Chad Severs replaces Nick Dale. Otago wil go 4-4-2 after begining with 5-4-1.
Menapi misses another short range effort.
GOAL! 2-0 Menapi finds his range and it's about 30 metres. A lovely curling effort that ends up top left corner.
Liam Little saves at the feet of Allan Pearce. The play sweeps down the other end and Severs puts it past Eaddy to be called back for offside.
SUB Waitakere - Chris Bale leaves the field. Hoani Edwards comes on.
GOAL 3-0! Allan Pearce rampages down the right flank and delevers a flat cross that Jake Butler turns in with his chest
Wiatakere win a free kick which Neil Emblen blast wide. Very wide.
GOAL! 4-0 Allan PEarce rampages down the right flank and delivers a flat cross which Daniel Koprivcic turns in with his chest.
FULLTIME: 4-0. Waitakere finish quite comfortable in the end. It was tough for the first hour but once the first went in, the flood gates opened somewhat. Otago lost something went Phelan went off, and even though they changed the formation to find a goal, it never came.