NZFC - Round 12
Douglas Field, Henderson
Friday 6 February
Benjamin Totori 30
Halftime: 1-0 Referee: Chris Kerr Crowd: 223
by Bob Pearce at Douglas Field
Waitakere United confirmed their place in the New Zealand Football Championship playoffs with a clinical 3-0 victory over Otago United in a game that never really came alive.
Sure the league leaders scored three goals and Otago came to play rather than to limit the damage. But on a hot early afternoon neither team really clicked and the meagre crowd were satisfied but hardly entranced.
The first half produced just the one goal after half an hour when Benjamin Totori's shot from the edge of the penalty area found the net after rebounding off the far post. The goal coincided with Otago's loss of central defender Mike Smith with a leg injury.
Otago were still well in the game with Dave Dugdale and Arron Burgess having chances before the break.
But within a minute of the restart it was 2-0 and the game was Waitakere's. Roy Krishna, who had been strangely inactive during the first 45 minutes, was allowed to run from deep down the left and his angled shot eluded Liam Little's dive.
Waitakere's third came in the 69th minute when Paul Seaman, who had come on as a substitute, turned a cross into the path of Allan Pearce, who had the easiest of tap-ins.
Seaman could have had a goal of his own minutes later but Little produced the save of the game to turned his shot away with his fingertips diving at full stretch.
And Little was again the saviour for the visitors when he managed to stick out a foot to deny Krishna a second goal.
Waitakere coach Chris Milicich, with an eye to a game against Waikato on Sunday that could see his team clinch the minor premiership, made the most of his substitutes but was not overly enthusiastic about the performance.
"We'll take three points, three goals and a clean sheet," he said. "We're doing enough to win at the moment. We know when the real action starts in late March and April.
"Credit to Otago. They tried to pay football but we score goals. To be honest we should have scored more."
Otago coach Terry Phelan was his usual voluble self after the game. It is easy to see the frustration of a quality player whose team give their all but can't always match his expectations.
"It's all down to the players," he said. "We gave away two sloppy goals. How are you going to win things doing that?
"Decision-making is what let us down today. You're playing against a top-quality side and if you let teams like that play, they'll hurt you."
Better teams than Otago have come to Douglas Field and been punished for failing to keep the speedy Totori and Krishna in check.
Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert was an interested spectator and may have been assessing the possibilities of filling the gap in his squad for next season caused by the departure of Shane Smeltz.
Photos: Shane Wenzlick www.phototek.co.nz
1 Richard Gillespie (GK)
1 Liam Little (GK)
3 Aaron Scott
2 Rhys Henderson
4 Tim Myers (Solly 73)
3 Tristen Prattley
9 Benjamin Totori(Vincent 66)
6 Mike Smith (Connor 27)
10 Allan Pearce
7 Robbie Deeley
11 Neil Sykes
9 Tom Jackson (Scoullar 59)
12 Roy Krishna
10 Dave Dugdale
14 Jeff Campbell
11 Andy Coburn (Gardiner 68)
15 Chris Bale (Seaman 62)
12 Arron Burgess
16 Neil Emblen
17 Tim Horner
17 Jake Butler
21 Stu Kelly
22 Danny Robinson (RGK)
4 Barry Gardiner (in 68)
8 Paul Seaman (in 62)
8 Blair Scoullar (in 59)
21 Kayne Vincent (in 66)
13 Cullum Flaws (RGK)
24 Ash Solly (in 73)
18 Tom Connor (in 27)
27 Jake Mathews
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Hot with brisk cross breeze and small crowd in beach weather. Neil Emblen presented with player of the month award for January.
Butler has first shot, easy save. Totori hobbling after tackle.
Otago have come to play with three up front keeping Waitakere honest.
Dugdale heads Kelly freekick into arms of Gillespie
Totori finds Sykes in penalty area but Little dives to intercept
Chip b y Dugdale lobbed by Burgess and Gillespie struggles to clear
Totori scuffs shot for easy save
Jackson takes knock but back after drinks break
Smith down with injury as Waitakere freekick by Campbell swerves just wide of goal from edge of penalty area.
Substitution Otago Smith off Connor on
GOAL! Totori shot from edge of the area in off far post
Yellow card Burgess for protest over hand ball call
Totori through frustrated by tackle from Connor
Pearce beats three but shot blocked by Little
Three minutes added
45 plus two
Shot by Pearce well saved by Little
45 plus three
Halftime 1-0. Not great football and Otago not out of it
GOAL! 58 seconds into the half and Krishna speeds down left wing and beats Little with angled shot
Dugdale shoots wide
Quick break by Waitakere foiled by great tackle by Henderson
Substitution Jackson replaced by Scoullar
Substitution Waitakere Bale off Seaman on
Substitution Waitakere Totori off Vincent on
Otago substitution Gardiner on for Coburn
GOAL! Cross from left finds Seaman who slips to Paerce for easy finish
Substitution Waitakere Solly on for Myers
Seaman shot fingertip save by Little.
Burgess shot straight at Gillespie
Krishna shot saved by Little's foot.
Two minutes of stoppage and the players can't wait
90 plus two
Fulltime whistle and another three points to Waitakere