NZFC - Round 12
Memprial Park, Palmerston North
Saturday 14 February, 2009
Gustavo Saralegui 56
Halftime: 0-0 Referee: Jamie Cross Crowd: 350
by Jonathan Galuszka at Memorial Park
A single goal is all that separated YoungHeart Manawatu and Waikato FC at Memorial Park in Palmerston North today.
On a sunny yet chilly afternoon, Waikato took the game to YoungHeart from the first whistle. They moved the ball around quickly and certainly seemed to look the better of the two teams.
This did not last for long though, with YoungHeart’s Raf de Gregorio and Matt Kennedy managing to take control of the midfield and dictate the pace of the game for the rest of the first half. This midfield dominance combined with the pace of Adam Cowan, Cory Chettleburgh and Gustavo Saralegui had Waikato on the ropes until just after halftime. The defence, mustered by Jan Weissenfeldt, also did a fantastic job of eliminating any Waikato advances.
However, YoungHeart did have something that they could not get right – finishing. While creating a plethora of chances, their strikers – especially Cowan – hit the ball over, wide and into the goalposts.
With that said, Waikato goalkeeper Greg Walters was forced to make more than his fair share of saves throughout the game. He did everything from taking crosses to saving shots to shutting down one-on-one situations.
“He [Walters] was excellent today,” Waikato coach Dave Edmondson said after the match.
“He made four or five saves that really kept us in the game.”
Waikato was in the game until just after halftime. But it was turned on its head in the 52nd minute when Waikato defender Paul Stewart chopped down Saralegui when he was in a goal-scoring position, leaving Jamie Cross no option but to send him off.
YoungHeart finally managed to make the most of their wealth of possession and one-man advantage in the 56th minute when Adam Cowan laid off a ball for Saralegui to punish into the back of the net.
The rest of the game carried on as it had until the final 15 minutes, when Waikato adopted an all-or-nothing approach. They pushed men forward in droves looking for the equaliser.
They almost had their goal in the 79th minute, when Scott Robson chopped down substitute Stu Watene in YoungHeart’s box. However, YoungHeart goalkeeper Chris Marsh showed all his experience to dive the right way to make the save.
“Marsh made the big ones when it counted,” YoungHeart coach Bob Sova said.
Sova was not just full of praise for his own goalkeeper after the game though.
“This is the second time I have seen him [Walters] play and he has to be the best keeper in the league,” Sova said.
“I thought we had a good keeper in Marsh but that guy is a great buy for Waikato.”
While Edmondson was happy with the performance of his players, he was still disappointed after the game.
“It is annoying when it all turns on one decision,” he said.
“We didn’t really have it our way today. That [the red card] followed by missing the penalty really just topped it off.”
“99 times out of 100 you get those [penalties], but that’s football.”
While Waikato has a bye next week – one desperately needed to mend their injured players – YoungHeart will be taking on Auckland at home.
With Auckland next week and Waitakere the week after, one punter after the game summed up just how important the win today was.
“For all we know, they [YoungHeart] may not get any more points. We needed the win today and need results to go our way to make sure we make it to the playoffs.”
Photo: Grant Stantial
1. Chris Marsh
2. Joel Mathews
2. Nelson Sale
3. Ben Hunt
4. Jan Weissenfeldt
8. Paul Stewart
6. Matt Kennedy
9. Marco Rojas
8. Nathan Cooksley
13. Shaun van Rooyen
9. Gustavo Saralegui
14. Craig Wylie
10. Adam Cowan
16. Sam Margretts
11. Scott Robson
18. Nick Robson
16. Raff de Gregorio
19. Greg Walters
20. Aleck Maemae
20. Alex Barlow
22. Cory Chettleburgh
21. Jonathan Stables
3. Pablo Yackson
1. Jason Mann
14. Nik Tromp
4. Graham Pearce
17. Isaac Duker
12. Mike Walters
18. Finaly Milne
22. Anthoney Hagan
19. Matt Borren
23. Stu Watene
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Welcome today to this Valentines Day clash between NZP YoungHeart Manawatu and Waikato FC in Palmerston North. It has been raining here for the last week but Palmerston North has turned it on today with blue skies and a light breeze drying out the pitch quickly. The last time these two teams met, YoungHeart coach Bob Sova promised that the pitch quality would be far greater than Waikato's home ground. Sova will not have to eat his words today, with the pitch having a perfect coat of grass that looks prefectly manacured. Sova will also be banking on his team avenging the 2-0 loss from the last encounter between these two teams. He is without goal-scoring machine Jason Hayne (currently on trial in Brunei), but Waikato are also without striker Stu Hogg (suspended). Both teams need the points and won't be showing any love on the most romantic day of the year.
Waikato are playing into the wind in the first half while YoungHeart are going to be kicking off.
Jamie Cross blows the whistle to get us underway.
Waikato have come out the blocks very quickly today. Plenty of running and pin-point passing already has YHM looking stretched through the midfield.
A silly challenge from YHM left-back Nathan Cooksley gives Waikato a free kick on the top-left corner of the YHM box. However, Cooksley manages to redeem himself by heading the ball away from the goal for a corner.
First real chance of the day falls to Sam Margretts. The corner comes in, comes of a Waikato head and Margretts gets a chance to divert it goalward. His effort is average though and sails over the bar.
Both captains are having great games so far. YHM's Adam Cowan is everywhere the ball seems to be, putting in challenges and runing into gaps. Waikato's Craig Wylie is making some great runs through the midfield and laying off some magical passes for his wingers.
YHM manage to break out quickly from a corner down their end thanks to some brilliant running from Alick Maemae and acrobatic passing moves from Raff de Gregorio. However, they take things too quickly and the ball ends up in the arms of the Waikato keeper.
A high floating free kick gets dangerously close to a Waikato head in YHM's box, but Cowan comes to the rescue with a great clearing header.
Gustavo Saralegui makes a great run up the middle. He lays the ball off to Cowan who has only the keeper to beat on a slight angle. However, he passes the ball across the box and Cory Chettleburgh slices the ball wide of the goal. Should have been 1-0 to the home team, but was let down by poor finishing.
de Gregorio frees up space in a pocket just outside the Waikato 18-yard for Maemae to have a dig. It's solid, but goes into the arms of the Waikato keeper.
YHM are now camped down in Waikato's third of the field. However, they just cannot get that finishing touch.
YHM keeper Chris Marsh is showing all his experience today. Anything near the 6-yard has been either caught or punched away with ease. It was no wonder than last year's keeper Andrew Bailey ended up going to the USA to get some game-time.
Once again, YHM camp down the Waikato end. Cowan gets the ball on the angle but - once again - is unable to do anything threatening with the ball.
YHM striker Gustavo Saralegui is having a lot of trouble with keeping onside today. He's been called up at least three times now and it is really starting to frustrate the man.
Chettleburgh has been his usual livewire self down the right flank today. He is managing to punish defenders with his pace and his touch on the ball is especially brilliant today. No Jason Hayne is not a big issue when you have someone like Chettleburgh to step up.
Chettleburgh takes another trademark run up his flank before squaring it up for Cowan. Cowan then takes a few yards across the box and smashes a bullet just over the bar.
Yellow Card. Matt Kennedy gets the first booking of the day for what seemed to be a fair challange on Craig Wylie. Then again, the ref was 2 yards away, so he obviously saw something I couldn't.
Chettleburgh puts in a corner that is met by Jan Weissenfeldt header. However, it hits the pitch, bounces into the keeper and just manages to dip over the bar.
Saralegui takes a run up the left flank and puts in a great ball for Cowan. He hits the ball but it is well saved. The ball comes back down the left flank and this time Chettleburgh hits it over the bar. How many chances to these guys need?!?!?!
We will have one minute of extra time in the first half.
Maemae injects himself up the middle of the field and lays it forward for Cowan. The keeper gets there first but clears it into Cowan's back. It goes high and Saralegui gets a head on it. After all that, it bobbles wide.
Halftime 0-0 How YHM are not ahead is beyond me. They have had all the ball, all the good play and all of the chances. All they need is to put the ball in the back of the net. Waikato need to sort out how to slow down YHM's midfield to get back into the game.
The second half is underway.
Waikato seem to have slightly changed their shape a bit. Wylie has moved forward into more of an attacking midfield position. This should give them more options up front, but will it help slow down the YHM midfield? We will have to wait and see.
Chettleburgh has a run up the right flank and puts one in for Cowan. He hits it hard but is met with a brilliant save from the Waikato keeper.
RED CARD! Saralegui is taken down on a run towards the goal by Paul Stewart. Jamie flashes him a red straight away and he trudgest off the park.
Cowan has another dig, this time from inside the 18-yard box. He beats the keeper but it comes off the far post and bounces straight back out. He is getting closer but still isn't close enough.
GOAL! 1-0 A Raff de Gregorio cross comes to Cowan. He lays it off for Saralegui to place past a lone defender on the line.
Yellow Card. Chettleburgh gets a yellow for time wasting.
SUB. Waikato makes the first change of the game, taking off Nick Robson for Mike Walters.
Saralegui has a great run, but he is gready nad has a dig instead of passing inside. He is rewarded with his shot going high and wide of the goal.
Chettleburgh puts in a corner and targets Weissenfeldt. His header is saved by Walters. Walters then manages to make a save a second later as Weissenfeldt has another dig on his follow through. Walters is having a blinder today and is doing all he can to keep his team in the match.
The sending off of his team-mate has forced Wylie back into a central defensive position. Pity, he was really sparking the magic for Waikato up front.
YHM defender Nelson Sale gets a hand on a ball. Waikato coach Dave Edmondsonis begging the referee for a card as it was 'in a goalscoring position.' Most would hardly call 40-yards out a goalscoring position.
Yellow Card. Alex Barlow gets a yellow for a hard challenge.
Cowan gets one-on-one with Walters. He tries to round him but Walters - at full stretch - gets both hands on the ball.Goal saving material that all fellow keepers love to see.
SUB Barlow gets an early shower and Stu Watene gets a run.
The one-man advantage is really showing now. YHM seem to have space for most of Africa whenever they are moving upfield while Waikato are looking stretched in defence. Saying that, Waikato are getting plenty of numbers forward.
Cowan gets a breakaway. However, he is far too lazy with his running and the Waikato defence catches up with him.
PENALTY!!! Robson takes down Watene in his box! Tension is high all over the park...... and Marsh saves!!! Goes to his right and smothers the ball with ease.
SUB Waikato make their final change of the game, taking Shaun van Rooyen off and injecting Anthoney Hagan into the game.
Cowan has another dig from just inside the left corner of the 18-yard. This one hits the outside of the near post.
Three minutes of extra time left. Waikato have been pouring forward in the last five minutes looking for an equaliser. Can YHM hold on?
90 + 1 min
Waikato have a free kick just to the right and 30-yards out. Very handy indeed. Cooksley manages to jump high and block the ball from his position in the wall.
Fulltime 1-0 YHM get the one that matter and hold onto the lead to take all three points and make a move up the table. Full credit to Adam Cowan (A.K.A. Captain Inspirational). Next up for YHM is Auckland at home. Until then!