NZFC - Round 14, Newtown Park
Sunday 13 January 2008, 4pm
Benjamin Totori 87
Halftime: 0-0 Referee: Peter O'Leary (Hamilton) Crowd: 850
by Sean Martin at Newtown Park
Totori proved a constant thorn in Wellington's side all afternoon and he prodded the ball past goalkeeper Phil Imray in the 87th minute to ensure Waitakere took all three points back to Auckland.
The 2006-07 NZFC Golden Boot winner and his Waitakere teammates were guilty of poor finishing in a first half which saw the visitors create a hatful of chances only to spurn them all. It appeared Waitakere would pay dearly until Totori's late strike.
Team Wellington had to play the final 17 minutes with 10-men when captain Adam Birch was handed a straight red card by referee Peter O’Leary for a challenge on Waitakere substitute Paul Seaman.
Both sides had observed a minute’s silence before the match to mark the passing of Sir Edmund Hillary and when the match kicked off it was Waitakere who seized the initiative, forcing a succession of corners.
In blustery, overcast conditions in front of a 850-strong crowd Waitakere bossed the first half with Totori and Allan Pearce especially dangerous.
But it was Totori’s international colleague Commins Menapi had the first real chance steering his shot wide after 18 minutes.
Ten minutes later defender Danny Hay showed fine touch and trickery in a 30-metre run down the right before cutting into the box and lashing a left-footed shot that Imray did well to turn away.
Hay and his defensive colleagues Neil Emblen and Jonathan Perry were snuffing out Team Wellington’s attacks with ease as they were reduced to pumping long balls up field.
Totori blasted his shot from inside the box against the crossbar shortly afterwards and it was only after the introduction of midfielder Raf de Gregorio 35 minutes into the first half that the hosts got a handle on the match.
But just before the break Imray was alert to smother at the feet of Totori after the striker had muscled his way past Sean Douglas.
Fortunate to go into the break on level terms, Team Wellington put Waitakere under pressure in the second half with striker Graham Little making a nuisance of himself and it was his lob that had keeper Simon Eaddy worried five minutes after the resumption.
With Totori a constant menace, Waitakere were always a threat but they were handed an advantage with the dismissal of Birch. His strong tackle on Seaman, who replaced Neil Sykes at halftime, seemed innocuous enough, but O’Leary, who also dished out three yellow cards to the home side, thought otherwise much to the bemusement of the crowd.
Despite being down to 10, Team Wellington fashioned a handful of half-chances but without forcing a save from Eaddy.
Totori’s match-winning goal was typical of his performance, picking the ball up just inside the Team Wellington half and setting off on a mazy run, teasing defenders before sliding it past the left hand of Imray.
But Wellington refused to die and had one final chance to share the points, only for Douglas to head over the bar with the last touch of the match.
Waitakere coach Chris Milicich was pleased with the way his side ground out the result, but rued the missed chances that could have put them out of sight before the break.
“We could have been two or three up in the first half. If the game was decided by shots we would have won easily, but in the end we only needed the one goal," Milicich said.
“We showed a lot of guts to grind out the win. They defended well and we only had ourselves to blame for not taking our chances.”
Team Wellington coach Stu Jacobs conceded his side were below their best in the first half but was pleased with their second half display.
“In the first half we failed to adapt to the way Waitakere play but in the second half we coped a bit better and caused them some problems," Jacobs said.
“But I’m gutted about the loss. Not the way we played, but the way we lost. It’s tough when it’s something out of your control.
“Every match has a turning point and it [the sending off] was it, but having said that we still had chances to win it but fair dues to Waitakere...they nicked a result.”
Photos: Tim Hales
2. Sam Peters Off 66 mins
2. Jonathan Perry
5. Peter Howe
5. Danny Hay (captain)
6. Adam Birch (captain)
8. Commins Menapi Off 83 mins
8. Michael Wilson
9. Benjamin Totori
9. Daniel Ellensohn
10. Allan Pearce
10. Luis Corrales Off 35min
11. Neil Sykes Off 46mins
13. Karl Whalen
13. Daniel Koprivcic )ff 63 mins
15. Graham Little
15. Chris Bale
17. Wiremu Patrick Off 79 mins
16. Neil Emblen
19. Sean Douglas
17. Jake Butler
24. Phil Imray (GK)
22. Simon Eaddy (GK)
3. Steve Gulley
1. Richard Gillespie (RGK)
16. Raf De Gregorio On 35mins
7. Jason Hayne
20. Caue Benicio On 66 mins
14. Hoani Edwards 63 mins on mins
21. Cole Tinkler On 79 mins
20. Jason Rowley On 83 mins
Jake Gleeson (RKG)
33. Paul Seaman 46 mins on
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Welcome to a grey afternoon in the Capital for this crucial round 14 fixture brought forward due to Waitakere United's impending O-League committments. The major team news is the fact Team Wellington coach Stu Jacobs has left sometimes All Whites midfielder Raf de Gregorio and Brazilian Caue Benicio on the bench in naming an unchanged XI from the side that beat up YoungHeart Manawatu 8-0 last Sunday. NZ U-20s goalkeeper Jake Gleeson is also on Wellington's bench after Dylan Hall injured a finger in training. It's a fine but overcast afternoon at Newtown Park with a slight breeze that should not influence play. Grab a cuppa and enjoy the on-line action on nzfc.co.nz!
0 min - FIFA referee Peter O'Leary has signalled time on.
10 mins - Waitakere United have shaded possession 60%-40% and have forced two corners but there have been no major incidents at either end yet.
17 mins - Yellow card. Wellington striker Daniel Ellensohn is booked for persistent infrigements after pushing both Hay and Emblen. O'Leary is stamping his mark.
19 mins - Waitakere frontrunner Commins Menapi nods the matches best chance wide from a Waitakere corner.
24 mins - Waitakere skipper Danny Hay has produced a brillant save from Phil Imray after going on an solo 40m run.
28 mins - Waitakere marksman Benjamin Totori skims a shot off Imray's crossbar from an Allan Pearce cross.
30 mins - It's still scoreless but Waitakere clearly have the upperhand.
35 mins - TW SUB - Raf de Gregorio on/Luis Corrales off. A tactical switch from coach Stu Jacobs with Wellington reverting to a more traditional 4-4-2 after starting 4-3-3.
44 mins - Imray has produced another top-draw save, nicking the ball from the feet of twinkle-toed Solomon Islander Totori who was through on goal.
Halftime: It's goal-less at the break with Waitakere shading the contest.
46 mins - WU SUB - Neil Sykes off/Paul Seaman on. We're underway after Waitakere's halftime substitution.
50 mins - Graham Little has gone down in the box but referee O'Leary waves away Wellington's penalty appeals.
55 mins - Totori's shot skims just wide
60 mins - An hour gone and it remains goal-less but far from boring with both sides creating opportunties.
63 mins - WU SUB - Daniel Koprivcic off/Hoani Edwards on.
65 mins - Yellow card - Team Wellington's Michael Wilson is booked for a tackle from behind.
66 mins - TW SUB - Sam Peters off/Caue Benicio on.
71 mins - RED CARD! - Team Wellington have been reduced to 10-men with captain Adam Birch given a straight red by referee O'Leary for a lunging, studs up tackle on Paul Seaman.
79 mins - TW SUB - Wiremu Patrick off/Cole Tinkler on.
82 mins - Yellow card - Team Wellington's Graham Little is booked for a tackle from behind.
83 mins - WU SUB - Commins Menapi off/Jason Rowley on.
87 mins - GOAL! 0-1 Waitakere United looked to have snatched the points after Benjamin Totori rounded fresh substitute Cole Tinkler before driving the ball low and hard through the fingertips of Imray into the far side-netting.
90 mins - Time is up
Fulltime: 0-1. Totori has done it for Waitakere who stay within a point of Auckland but sneak three clear of 10-man Team Wellington.