NZFC Grand Final,
Douglas Field at Trusts Stadium, Sunday 20 April 2008
Own Goal (Karl Whalen) 45
Halftime: 1-0 Referee: Mike Hester Crowd: 2011
NZFC Title Keeps Waitakere On Course for Treble
by nzfc.co.nz at Trusts Stadium
A 2-0 Grand Final win over Team Wellington at Trusts Stadium on Sunday secured Waitakere United's first New Zealand Football Championship and kept the West Auckland club on course for an unprecedented treble of titles.
Waitakere had fallen in the Grand Final twice in the first three NZFC seasons but after Wellington’s Karl Whalen turned a Benjamin Totori cross into his own net just before halftime, the West Aucklanders never looked like letting this chance slip away, and once Allan Pearce put a second on the board for the home side after 66 minutes the result looked beyond doubt.
Despite finishing last season as both NZFC Minor Premiers and Oceania Champions, Waitakere were forced to play bridesmaid to Auckland City’s national league celebrations, and look with envy as their cross-town rivals won their third consecutive Grand Final.
But Waitakere Football Manager Chris Milicich said there was now no question Waitakere were the undisputedly the best club in the country.
“It’s fantastic. The club deserves this. We’ve been the best club all year, and we’ve dominated the competition, which is tremendous given the other competitions we’ve been involved in,” Milicich said.
“A big weight has been lifted off the club. The titles ours, and the Auckland hoo-doo, that’s all gone.”
With a second Minor Premiership banked a few weeks ago, and the New Zealand Football Championship trophy set for pride of place in club headquarters, Milicich’s attention now switches to defending their O-League title against Kossa FC and earn a return to the FIFA World Club Cup in Japan.
“Now we head to the Solomons on Thursday morning for [Saturday’s] O-League final. No-one’s ever done the treble before, but it’s firmly in our sights.”
Waitakere lost captain Danny Hay to an Achilles injury minutes before halftime but once again Waitakere’s back three – with Darren Bazely filling in for Hay alongside Jonathan Perry and man of the match Neil Emblen – were well worth their clean sheet – the 12th time in 22 NZFC matches they have kept an opponent scoreless.
Graham Little – playing his 82nd and final – NZFC match went closest to scoring for Wellington, but his long range effort was spectacularly tipped onto the post by Richard Gillespie in the 73rd minute.
Gillespie also denied Darren Cheriton in the second half, closing the midfielder down quickly after Raf de Gregorio’s through ball unlocked Waitakere’s defence.
But it was substitute Roy Krishna who provided the game’s spark – flicking a pass between two defenders with his first touch to set up Allan Pearce’s match-sealing goal.
Stu Jacobs was philosophical after guiding Team Wellington to a Grand Final in his first season in charge, but falling short of a title and with it missing out on next year’s O-League.
“We made them work hard for it and we were close, but nobody likes losing. We know we can compete with these teams now so as a franchise we have to make sure we don’t take the foot off the throat and come back stronger for the experience next season,” Jacobs said.
Photos: Shane Wenzlick www.phototek.co.nz
1. Richard Gillespie (GK)
24. Phil Imray (GK / Captain)
2. Jonathan Perry
23. Tim Schaeffers
5. Danny Hay (Captain)
19. Sean Douglas
6. Darren Bazely
13. Karl Whalen
8. Commins Menapi
17. Wiremu Patrick
9. Benjamin Totori
5. Peter Howe
10. Allan Pearce
16. Raf de Gregorio
11. Neil Sykes
9. Daniel Ellensohn
15. Christopher Bale
10. Luis Corrales
16. Neil Emblen
15. Graham Little
33. Paul Seaman
14. Darren Cheriton
7. Jason Hayne
1. Sasha Nathu (RGK)
12. Roy Krishna
21. Cole Tinkler
13. Daniel Koprivcic
7. Sam Blackburn
17. Jake Butler
18. Peter Halstead
22. Simon Eaddy (RGK)
22. Michael Eager
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Welcome to Trusts Stadium on a glorious Autumnal day. Whatever happens today we will have a new NZFC champion as both Waitakere United and Team Wellington chase their first title - Wellington in the first Grand Final and Waitakere in the third.
Wellingotn force an early corner but Emblen clears.
Bale sets Totori away on the right. He skips inside along the edge of teh area and his firm shot is saved well low by Imray at his near post.
No real chances for either side in the last ten minutes. Wellington's passing has been crisp in midfield at times but their front three of Coralles, Little and Ellensohn has been dwarfed by the Waitakere defensive trio of Hay, Perry and Emblen. Totori is seeing a lot of teh ball down Waitakere's left flank.
Chris Bale gets upended and gets a yellow for his appeals to referee Mike Hester.
Peter Howe picks up a yellow
Imray saves at the feet of Totori
Good interplay from Wellington eventually leads to Wellington's first shot on target - from Ellensohn
Wellington lose possession after attacking down the left, and Emblen finds acres of space down the other side.
Waitakere corner hit flat, bounces off a TW defender to Paul Seaman who volleys into the post with Imray resigned to watch it.
Graham Little shot goes high and wide
Coralles burns past Allan Pearce who ends up clipping the Costa Rican's heels to conced a free kick. Patrick hits it well but it's comfortable for Gillespie.
Ellensohn into the box, gets cut off by Hay. Hay goes down after shielding the ball.
Hay still looking a bit ginger on the leg - looks like his achilles
Patrick has time to tee up a shot but blasts it over from 23 yards.
SUB Waitekere: An injured Hay comes off for Butler. Bazely has droped back into defence
Pearce sends one over.
A difficult backpass troubles Imray, who conceds a corner. It's eventually scrambled away.
GOAL! 1-0 A game desparately in need of a goal has one through an unlucky Karl Whalen. Totori bursts into the box on the right and fires a pass accros the face. Whalen gets a foot on it but can only send it past his own keeper.
Halftime: A late goal just shades it for Waitakere at halftime.
An early free kick from Waitakere lands dangerously in the six yard area. Emblen is close to getting a tow on it but Howe pokes it clear
Coralles nutmegs Pearce then runs into him to try and draw a foul. Pearce and Ref both tell him to get up.
De Gregorio unlocks Waitakere's defence with a through ball to Ellensohn but Gillespie saves one-on-one.
Totori and Menapi combine up front but Howe puts a god tackle on the latter.
Sean Douglas puts a long range header just wide.
Sub TW: Sam Blackburn on for Patrick
SUB Waitakere: Roy Krishna on for Benji Totori
GOAL 2-0! Krishna has an immediate impact, his first touch sets up Allan Pearce to double Waitakere's lead
Ellensohn's shot forces a save by Gillespie at his near post.
SUB TW: Last week's two-goal hero Peter Halstead comes on for Tim Schaeffers
Krishna draws a fine save from Phil Imray
Richard Gillespie athletically dives high to his right to tip Graham Little's long range effort onto the post
SUB Waitakere: Koprivcic on for Menapi
Allan Pearce into the box on the counter attack. Goes down but the penalty claims are waved away by Hester.
Wellington pushing men forward but the best they can do is a couple of corners
Three minutes of additional time to be played. Wellington stil pressing but don't look likley of breaking through
Fulltime: It's all over at Trusts Stadium. Waitakere win 2-0 to claim their first ever NZFC title at the third attempt. Next up, the O-League final to try and win the double.