NZFC - Round 8,
Memorial Park, Palmerston North
Saturday 10 January, 2009
Matt Kennedy 18, 34,
Halftime: 3 - 0 Referee: Crowd: 800
by Jonathan Galuszka at Memorial Park
A dominant first half display from a newly renamed NZP YoungHeart Manawatu saw them demolish Canterbury United 4-0 at Memorial Park in Palmerston North this afternoon.
From the outset, Manawatu looked the better team in the wet conditions, playing their typically fast-paced passing game through the midfield before swinging the ball out wide to wingers Jason Hayne and Brook Tozer.
Canterbury – on the other hand – looked anything but comfortable, with their defence constantly letting Manawatu strikers Park Sung-Bae and Gustavo Saralegui take shots at Michael O’Keefe’s goal.
The scoring began in the 18th minute when debutant Matt Kennedy took a cross from Jason Hayne before blasting a truly first-class volley into the back of the net to claim his first goal in Manawatu colours.
Kennedy managed to double his tally 16 minutes later, when a dreadful long ball from Raff de Gregorio was met with an equally dreadful clearance from O’Keefe. The ball bounced into Kennedy’s path and he easily placed it into the net.
Manawatu continued to push forward in numbers and – in the 38th minute – a shot from Saralegui threatened to fly past O’Keefe. Canterbury defender Andy Pitman had other ideas though, getting his hands in the way to divert the ball over the goal. Referee Nick Waldron was left with no other option but to send Pitman from the field and award Manawatu with a penalty that Park easily converted.
“He obviously did handle the ball,” Canterbury coach Korouch Monsef said after the game.
“Being two nil down with eleven on eleven – we were hardly out of the contest. [Pitman’s] handball obviously put an end to the game for us.”
After the break, Manawatu were quick to hammer more nails into Canterbury’s coffin, with Jason Hayne running into the box and hammering home a goal just three minutes into the second half.
From here on in though, Manawatu lost a lot of their energy and failed to push as many players forward as they had in the first half.
“You can’t play high intensity football for 90 minutes,” Manawatu coach Bob Sova said.
“You can do it in bursts or for an extended period. We managed to get all the damage done in that first half.”
Manawatu still managed to take shots at goal, but a combination of loose finishing and fine saves from O’Keefe prevented the score line from blowing out too far.
After the match, Bob Sova was not entirely convinced it was a perfect performance from his team.
“Four is good.”
“We could have had more [goals]. We just weren’t onto it with our finishing,” Sova said.
“It’s important that we look to score goals. Since this league is so tight right now, it could come down to – rather than points on the table - goal difference at the end.”
Monsef was optimistic about his team’s chances for the rest of the league after the match.
“We only lost three points against a very good side today,” he said.
“With the league how it is, we can lose two and win two and we may still be in the exact same spot.”
Sitting in sixth place is hardly where they will want to be though, with Monsef recognising that next week’s game against Otago “has now turned into a very important match.”
Manawatu will be travelling down to Wellington, with midfielder and today’s fill-in captain Raff de Gregorio having his first chance to play against his old club at his old home ground.
1. Chris Marsh (GK)
1. Michael O'Keefe (GK)
3. Pablo Yackson
2. Dan Terris
4. Jan Weiseenfeldt
3. Matt Boyd
6. Matt Kennedy
4. Bill Robertson
7. Jason Hayne
5. Andy Pitman
8. Nathan Cooksley
7. Ryan Faichnie
9. Gustavo Saralegui
8. Garry McDermott
11. Scott Robson
9. Tom Lancaster
12. Park Sung-Bae
10. Jamie Smith
16. Raf de Gregorio
12. Michael Fifii
21. Brook Tozer
20. Hamish Chang
5. Daniel Chavez
11. Gareth Turnbull
17. Isaac Duker
15. James Reichwein
18. Finlay Milne
16. Nick Wortleboer
22. Corey Chettleburgh
22. Chris Sinclair
=2 yellow cards
= red card