NZFC - Round 10, Waikato Stadium, 26 January 2008
Stanley Waita 18
Garry McDermott 55
Halftime: 3-0 Referee: Crowd:
by Bruce Holloway at Waikato Stadium
Waikato FC’s strikers are finally back at work.
After two earlier scoreless outings in 2008, Waikato FC made a bright start to eventually beat a surpisingly gritty Canterbury United team 3-1 at Waikato Stadium.
Solomon Islands international Stanley Waita opened the scoring by finishing a slick Waikato move, while Steven Holloway added two dashing goals before half time to give Waikato a rare 3-0 margin of comfort.
But Canterbury turned the game on its head when they dominated the midfield in the second half. Reports of their demise in the wake of their loss to Waitakere last week may be overstated.
Canterbury duly gained second half reward when midfielder Garry McDermott completing the scoring by crashing home a potentially awkward volley.
It was impossible not to sum the match up as a game of two halves.
Waikato engineered some clever attacking moves in the first half, but in suffocatingly hot conditions – a 1pm kick-off in the peak of January is not everybody’s idea of summer soccer – almost found themselves over-run by the visitors in the second spell.
The difference was in the finishing. In the 18th minute Holloway headed a ball down for skipper Rob Gill, who dinked it behind the defence for Waita - enjoying a rare start - to slide through and nonchalantly slip the ball home past advancing keeper Michael O’Keeffe just inside the post.
Then Waita turned provider in the 33rd minute, allowing Holloway to outleg the defence in a 30m sprint and pick his spot in the same corner.
Two minutes later came the goal of the game, with Gill crossing from the left and Holloway arriving late and hard at the far post to smash home.
"It was a real striker’s goal," said Waikato coach Roger Wilkinson.
Holloway, 22, enjoyed a prodiguous goalscoring record in US university soccer, where he collected a number of honours in his four year scholarship at Monmouth, New Jersey, which ended last year.
But these were his first goals at national league level.
Holloway, who was wracked by injury pre-season, declined to be interviewed, apart from saying it was "a relief" to find the net after failing to score in his previous five games - the longest barren spell of his career.
Waikato looked set to embellish their goal difference in the second half – but it never eventuated.
Instead the young Canterbury team found new purpose and took control from the start of the second half, with Ryan Faichnie producing useful darts forward and substitute Michael Fifi making a bigger impression on the right. Yusaku Okubo made a nuisance of himself up front and after sustained pressure it was fair reward to see McDermott drill in a right foot volley in the 55th minute.
Waikato lost a little of their fluency when Waita was subbed, while it was also at about this point that Gill’s work rate up front dried up completely. Gill later pointed to a suspected torn stomach muscle, making it even more surprising he was not subbed earlier than the 89th minute in such trying conditions.
A feature of Canterbury’s dogged effort was the 90-minute performance of coach Danny Halligan at centre back.
Halligan, who will be 43 next month, was one of the aristocrats of the old national league with Christchurch United back in the mid 80s and it was a trip down Memory Lane seeing him "do a Terry Phelan" as player-coach.
While not quite the midfield "ginger ninja" of old, he showed he was well preserved with an economical showing at centre back
He described the game, his first in three years, as "exhausting".
But he earned his corn with a solid contribution, though 20 years ago would undoubtedly have scored when he found himself free in the six yard box late in the second half.
"It was a matter of necessity," he said of his performance. "Bill Robertson has been the heart and soul of our defence and he was suspended, so I was simply looking to cover for him.
"I didn’t enjoy losing but I was really pleased with the way we played in the second half.
"I am under no illusions that we are not a top side, but we showed some good traits.
"We are still not good enough as a team but we continue to learn and play good football."
Halligan singled out defender Matt Boyd and midfielders McDermott and Sam Jasper for praise for their second half showing.
Meanwhile Wilkinson was unpertubed about Waikato’s second half slackness after such a breezy start.
"It gives me something to beat them with during the week ahead of our game against Auckland," he said. "The main thing is that was a very important three points for us.
"We played around them in the first half, but stopped doing it in the second spell.
"At half time I told them not to take the foot off the gas – but they did. The eyes glazed over with a few players.
"The good thing is, when we were under pressure we got bodies back and didn’t give silly penalties away."
Wilkinson said Holloway and centre back Hone Fowler were the pick of the Waikato players, and also acknowledged Aaron Scott’s "very good defending".
Photos: Tony Whitehead www.wildlight.co.nz
1. Dan Robinson
GK Michael O'keeffe
2. David Samson
2. Glenn Squire
3. Hone Fowler
5. Michael Bothwell
5. Aaron Scott
6. Garry McDermott
6. Sam Wilkinson
9. Dave Walker
7. Joe Simpkins
15. Rhodri Payne
12. Rob Gill
16. Yusaku Okubo
14. Shaun Van Rooyen
17. Ryan Faichne
15. Steve Holloway
18. Blair Duncan
17. Stu Watene
19. Matt Boyd
18. Stanley Waita
21. Sam Jasper
4. Tom Edwards (for 12, 89 min)
7. Michael Fifii (on 46 min)
9. Jakub Sinkora
11. Tom Lancaster (74 min, on for 16)
10. Luke Findley (on for 18, 61 min)
12. Jeremy Wild (83 min, on for 17)
11. Paul Stewart (on for 7, 78 min)
13. Rhys Parker
19. Junya Nakahashi
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Welcome to Waikato Stadium, where it is hotter than a great big hot thing, and the early kick-off seems to have caught the public out, with a tiny crowd in. Danny Halligan is not only starting for Canterbury - in a throwback to the late 1980s, but has also named himself as captain for the day.
1 min: Waikato playing 4-4-2, with Aaron Scott and Hone Fowler in central defence. Canterbury also 4-4-2, with Halligan at centre back.
3 min: Garry McDermott bursts into the area, but Waikato keeper Dan Robinson saves at his feet.
5 min: Holloway slips a ball through for Gill, the linesman flags for offside. poor decision.
7 min: Gill looks to lob the keeper, goes wide.
11 min: Van Rooyen gets in a shot at the far post after a Samson cross from the right.
12 min: Watene long ball puts Gill clear but his shot is well saved by O'Keeffe.
15 min: Wilkinson has shot within the 6 yard box saved.
17 min: Samson forces a corner for Waikato, haring down the right.
18 min: GOAL! Great move by waikato, as Holloway heads down for Gill who slips it into the path of Stanley Waita to expertly tuck the ball into the corner of the net once he was through.
22 min: Free kick to Canterbury but cleared by Waikato defence.
24 min: Okubo earns a corner and Robinson collects a tame lob from it.
27 min: Waikato are enjoying the bulk of possession as Wilkinson blasts high.
33 min: GOAL! Stanley Waita plays Holloway into space and he burst 30m to tuck a low shot into the net.
36 min: GOAL! Holloway drills in a spectacular finish, arriving late at the far post to ram home a Gill cross for 3-0.
41 min: Desperate save by Robinson after Okubo ran through, fed walker, took a return pass and seemed destined to score. Fine play from Canterbury after Fowler made a defensive error.
43 min: Van Rooyen is doing some tidy work in midfield for Waikato.
45 min: Wilkinson feeds Holloway, but he is squeezed wide and his shot is tame.
O'Keeffe then pulls off a diving save to deny Holloway on the break.
Half time: Waikato have dominated possession, and three slick pieces of finishing have given them a margin of comfort they have seldom enjoyed this season.
47 min: Sub for Canterbury, Fifi on for Walker
54 min: Lunging clearance from Scott to end a spell of Canterbury dominace pushing forward.
55 min: GOAL! Garry McDermott smashes in a volley from about 14m after the Waikato defence failed to clear a number of Canterbury raids.
58 min: Canterbury applying more pressure, looking a revitalised unit in the second half.
61 min: Luke Findley on for Waita. Waita has had a fine game.
63 min: McDermott surges past Findley, but loses the ball.
64 min: Canterbury free kick near the corner flag after Samson fouls Okubo. Partially cleared, Canterbury throw.
68 min: Okubo over the top with a long range effort.
69 min Okubo robs Watene, and finally a free kick to Fifi 40m out.
70 min: Findley loses out to Fifi in a messy exchange. Canterbury free kick. Waikato midfield is wilting.
72 min Jasper free kick into the box, offside.
74 min: Tom Lancaster on for Okubo. Halligan inside the six yard box can't quite apply a goalscoring touch.
76 min: Canterbury dominant, with the Waikato mifield almost non-existent.
78 min: Stewart on for Simpkins. A much-needed midfiled sub for Waikato.
83 min: Wild on for Faichne.
84 min: Duncan bursts into the box but is dispossessed. Aaron scott sidelined with injury.
89 min: Holloway tees up a shot for Wilkinson who smashes it high.
Sub: Edwards on for Gill
90 min: Holloway plays Samson in, his shot parried to Findley, who draws a save from O'Keeffe.
90 + 3: Full time, 3-1 win to Waikato, but a spirited second half showign from Canterbury.
Full match report to follow later.