NZFC - Semifinal, First Leg
Memorial Park, Pamerston North
Sunday 15 March, 2009
Jason Hayne 29, 80
Grant Young 76
Halftime: 2-0 Referee: Chris Kerr Crowd: 720
by Jonathan Galuszka at Memorial Park
Despite playing the majority of the second half with only nine men, YoungHeart Manawatu defeated Auckland City 3-1 in Palmerston North today and will head north for next Sunday's return leg with a valuable lead.
With over 700 spectators turning up to cheer on their home team, YoungHeart were keen to put on a good display and certainly delivered in an accomplished display before halftime.
They managed to control play through the first stages of the game, mounting pressure on Auckland’s defence. Goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley was especially edgy, at one point smashing a back-pass into YoungHeart’s Jason Hayne that nearly went into the back of the net.
In the 29th minute, Spoonley hit a ball – apparently for his own player – into the path of Gustavo Saralegui. Saralegui attempted to chip Spoonley, but hit the bar instead. Luckily for him, Hayne was running into the box and put the ball into the back of the net with a diving header.
However, the goal of the match came in the 41st minute. Saralegui dispossessed an Auckland defender on halfway, then – seeing that Spoonley was off his line – smashed the ball towards the goal.
But the real drama happened just after this. Saralegui, being the passionate South American footballer that he is, ripped his shirt off when celebrating.
The rulebook says that’s worth a caution and as Saralegui already had a yellow card for a previous indiscretion, referee Chris Kerr had no choice but to show Saralegui a red card.
After halftime, Auckland coach Paul Posa brought on striker Paul Urlovic in an attempt to take advantage of their one-man advantage and seek out an away goal.
Things got even better for Auckland in the 55th minute, when Raff de Gregorio – in his first game back from injury – received a straight red for what appeared to be dissent.
But try as they might, Auckland were still unable to put the ball into the net. Either YoungHeart goalkeeper Chris Marsh thwarted their efforts or YoungHeart got lucky with the ball hitting the post.
Auckland finally made good of their two-man advantage in the 76th minute when Grant Young jumped high to head a ball past a helpless Marsh.
But in spite of their advantage, Auckland was still unable to prevent YoungHeart from scoring again. Hayne managed to find himself with the ball on the edge of Auckland’s penalty area in the 80th minute and made no mistake, blasting the ball into the back of the net.
While Auckland coach Paul Posa refused any attempts to talk to media after the game, YoungHeart coach Bob Sova had mixed feelings about the game.
“[Winning] 3-1 against Auckland is pretty good,” Sova said.
“I could be a prick and say that the away goal was disappointing, but I’m definitely happy to a point.”
It was not hard to guess why Sova was not completely pleased with his team’s efforts.
“I’m disappointed with the two red cards. It means that they are out next week – Raff possibly for two.”
But forever the optimist, Sova can see gold around the grey cloud of losing two key players before a crucial away tie.
“It [next week’s return match] is going to be a true test of the depth of our squad.”
Photos: Dave Lintott
1. Chris Marsh (GK)
12. Jacob Spoonley (GK)
2. Nelson Sale
5. Matt Williams (off 66min)
4. Jan Weissenfeldt
6. Ki-Hyung Lee
7. Jason Hayne (off 88min)
7. James Pritchett
9. Gustavo Saralegui
8. Chad Coombes
10. Adam Cowan
10. Grant Young
11. Scott Robson
11. Alex Feneridis
14. Nik Tromp (off 78min)
15. Ivan Vicelich
16. Raff de Gregorio
20. Greg Uhlmann
20. Alick Maemae (off 56min)
24. Milos Nikolic (off 55min)
22. Cory Chettleburgh
2. Jonathan Raj (off 3 min)
19. Matt Borren (GK)
1. John Fletcher (GK)
3. Pablo Yackson (on 56 min)
25. Adam McGeorge
8. Nathan Cooksley
3. Matt Friel (on 3 min)
17. Issac Duker (on 78 min)
9. Paul Urlovic (on 55 min)
18. Finlay Milne (on 88 min)
23. Liam Mulrooney (on 66 min)
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Welcome to the NZFC online version of today's playoff tie between NZP YoungHeart Manawatu and Auckland City in Palmerston North. It is sunny with very little chance of rain (you can never be too sure in Palmerston North). However, there is a strong breeze across the ground. For those wondering why we have not kicked off yet, Auckland's plane had to turn around due to a malfunction with the radar. Kickoff is now at 2.30. YHM welcome back Raff deGregorio from injury but are without Matt Kennedy. However, the home team will find it harder to score thanks to All White goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley returning to the Auckland squad.
The home crowd has turned out in force today for what is possibly the last time YHM will play at home this season. With a good 300+ here already and more still coming through the gates, the home team can expect some vocal support.
While being late to the game, Auckland are the first out of the shed. They home crowd is giving them a big reception. No doubt they will be out to silence them quickly.
Referre Chris Kerr blows the whistle and we are underway. The wind is slightly with Auckland in this half.
Straight from the outset it looks like it is going to be a physical encounter. Jonathan Raj takes a run down the flank and is hammered by Nelson Sale in a tackle. Raj is on the ground getting treatment and is not looking good at all. It may be an early shower for him.
SUB Raj is off and Matt Friel gets on a tad earlier than expected.
Young gets one-on-one with Chris Marsh. He hits low and hard but Marsh takes it easily.
YHM break out from their half. Hayne runs it up the right flank, then switches it across the field for Chettleburgh. He runs the touchline before hitting it across the goal for Gustavo Saralegui. He smashes one in, beats Spoonley but it does not dip in time to sneak into the top corner.
Hayne gets it up the Auckland end. He tries to run it across the box, but is tackled. It spills out for Tromp. His effort gets points for trying but none on the board.
Auckland have won a free kick about 25-yards out from the YHM goal. Lets see what Ki-Hyung Lee can do.
His delivery comes in and pops off an Auckland foot into the air. Marsh cleans up the scraps.
Saralegui wins the ball on halfway. He sees Spoonley off his line and tries to chip him. It is far too long though. Pity he did not see Jason Hayne running into space.
Yellow Card. Raff de Gregorio gets into the book for pulling down Grant Young. Young was flying onto a through ball and may have scored. The free kick comes off the wall twice before Alex Feneridis has a dig. Marsh pats it down before jumping on it.
Auckland are looking the sharper of the two teams so far. They are using lond balls, tight passing and lots of running to get through the YHM lines. YHM seem to be still adjusting to finals football.
The wind has changed and YHM now have it behind them.
Yellow Card. Saralegui gets in the book for interfearing with Spoonley as he tried to punt the ball.
Hayne chances a back-pass to Spoonley that almost gets him a goal. Spoonley smashed the ball right into Hayne and it luckily bounced wide of the goal. On any other day it could have gone in.
GOAL! 1-0 Spoonley does it again, this time hitting the ball to Saralegui. Saralegui tries to chip him, it comes off the bar and a diving header from Hayne puts it into the net. The home crowd is loving it!
Hayne almost has two!! Saralegui beats his man up the left flank and has a shot that Spoonley spills. Hayne gets a head on it but it goes wide.
YHM get a free kick just outside the Auckland 18 yard thanks to a great run from Hayne. He hits wide to Chettleburgh, but his delivery into the box is poor.
Hayne has another run down the line before cutting back in. His left foot effort rolls wide though.
Spoonley gets another back-pass with Hayne chasing hard. This time he manages to get it away without playing it to a YHM player. That will do his confidence a world of good.
It has been interesting watching the coaches today. Paul Posa has been as silent as a mute all game, obviously waiting to say it all at halftime. On the other hand, Bob Sova has been yelling instructions to his players all game. Sova's approach is obviously working the best so far.
GOAL! 2-0 That one came from nowhere!!!!! Saralegui gest the ball on halfway and chips Spoonley who is off his line. But in a cruel twist of fate, Saralegui gets a Yellow Card - and the subsequent RED CARD - for taking off his shirt when celebrating. Sova is not happy at all.
HALFTIME 2-0 YHM are playing some great football now, but go into the break with plenty to worry about now that they are down to 10 men. Can they hold the lead for 45 minutes? No doubt Sova will have to decide how to approach the game from here on in.
The second half is underway.
Jason Hayne runs past four Auckland defenders on his way to the 18 yard area. Just as he is about to have a shot though, he is tackled. He is going to have a lot more running to do this half without Saralegui to support him.
Maemae hits the ball across field for Chettleburgh. It is all open pasture for the winger and he sprints with the ball into the box. His shot is fumbled by Spoonley but there is no one from YHM to get the scraps.
SUB Paul Urlovic gets onto the field for Milos Nikolic. Posa will be looking for Urlovic to run the YHM defenders ragged.
RED CARD Raff de Gregorio gets his marching orders for dissent. Now YHM are down to nine men. Life just keeps on getting tougher for Bob Sova.
SUB Pablo Yackson is on for Alick Maemae.
The crowd is doing all it can to bring YHM home. However, the home team to look like they are being stretched in defence. When they have the ball they look great though.
Scott Robson breaks out and is away up the field. He has Hayne with him but decides to run it himself. He is tackled and the ball goes back toward the YHM goal. That's what you get for trying to be the hero I guess.
SUB Auckland make their final change of the day, with Matt Williams leaving the field for Liam Mulrooney. A defender for a midfielder - Auckland are now playing three at the back and obviously want to pile the pressure on the YHM defence.
Ki-Hyung Lee pumps in a free kick. It comes off an Auckland head and beats Marsh. But luck is on his side today, as it comes off the far post and rolls into his arms.
Hayne is away up the field! He is on the edge of the box, turns his man and fires. Spoonley dives and just gets his hands to it. Great positive attacking football is always a good watch, but doing it when you are two men down is magic.
Chad Coombes flies through the box and puts one into the net. However, the ref had already blown for a free kick against Auckland. YHM are riding their luck, but it may not last forever.
A ball comes across for Young. He jumps high and beats Marsh with his head, but the ball goes wide. Someone said the right prayers in church today.
GOAL! 2-1 Young gets it right second time around, with this head going into the top corner.
SUB Issac Duker brings his fresh legs onto the field and Nik Tromp gets a break.
GOAL! 3-1 Jason Hayne doubles his tally. He is on the edge of the 18-yard and fires a bullet into the back of the net.
YHM are managing to just keep Auckland out of the box through some tenacious defending. Even Hayne is dropping as far back as the penalty area at times to help out.
Pablo Yackson has a great run down the left wing. He beats one by running around him, then plays the ball beween another defender's legs. He gets in front of goal, but puts his shot wide. This man played in the back four last season.
SUB Jason Hayne gets a huge clap as he leaves the field and Finlay Milne comes on.
Three minutes of extra time for YHM to hang on and for Auckland to try and grab another away goal.
FULLTIME 3-1 YHM hang on for the win. They will travel to Auckland next week full of confidence. Auckland still managed to get a crucial away goal, but will need a win to be in with a chance.