NZFC - Week 14,
Sunday 14th February 2010
Greg Draper 18
Roy Krishna 17
Halftime: 2-1 Referee: C-K Waugh Crowd: 175
by David Cross at Newtown Park
Acrobatic Solomon Island striker Michael Fifii emerged as Team Wellington's hero as his side edged Waitakere 4-3 on a Valentine's Day the visitors would rather forget.
As Dan Keat played the ball in to Michael Fifii 8 yards from goal, supporters held their breath and hoped, but no one expected what would unfold next.
Fifii controlled the ball with consumate skill and then executed a scintillating overhead kick past Danny Robinson to give Team Wellington a 4-3 win and send a passionate crowd into raptures.
While Fifii's moment of supreme skill was a match defining moment it was merely the final say in what was one of the most memorable NZFC matches seen at Newtown Park since the competition launched in 2004-05 season.
The drama was established prior to kick-off: one side, Team Wellington, struggling for consistency all season looking to maintain their slim play-off chances while for the other a win would propel them to the top of the table with a three point buffer over Auckland City.
Last ditch tackles from Jack Pelter and Karl Whalen stopped good chances at either end before the opening goals arrived within a minute of each other.
In the 16th minute Roy Krishna ran in to the area and only impressive pace from Chris Bale to run him down and take the ball off his toes stopped a good chance.
From the resulting corner the ball fell to Krishna who was wide and outside the area but pulled off an excellent finish along the ground over 20 yards out to give Waitakere a 1-0 lead.
The advantage didn't last long as Waitakere goalkeeper Dan Robinson appeared to drop an easy save and only succeeded in fumbling it into the path of Team Wellington's in-form Greg Draper who did not miss the opportunity.
Waitakere tried to bounce back quickly. Allan Pearce dispossesed Bryan Little and made a break down the right wing but his cross was not accurate enough and Team Wellington breathed a sigh of relief.
Pearce issued another threatening cross moments later but his pass was missed by both Krishna and Totori who appeared to leave the opportunity to the other.
This miss came back to haunt them when an Adny Barron corner curled towards the near post ended with goalkeeper Robinson managing to deflect the ball into his own net on 25 minutes.
While the scoring in the half was finished, the chances weren't with Krishna trying an audacious shot that just landed on the top of the net and All White Barron shooting straight at Dan Robinson while clear through on goal.
Team Wellington even managed to have the ball in the back of the net for a third time in the first half but Barron was adjudged to have fouled Dan Robinson while heading over him from a far post cross.
The final chance of a pulsating first forty five minutes fell to Totori but his shot spun wide of Bannatyne's far post.
An entertaining 45 minutes of football, and astonishingly just the start.
Changes were made at the break when the influential pair of Roy Krishna and Bryan Little both succumbed to injuries recieved late in the half with young South African Ryan de Vries on for Waitakere and Michael Fifii on for Little.
The second half started with the same intesity as the opening minutes with a goalline clearance by Karl Whalen - winning his 92nd NZFC career appearance - and then two corners for Waitakere with the only net result being a foul on Wellington keeper James Bannatyne by Waitakere Player/Coach Neil Emblen.
Brent Fisher broke Wellington's advantage when he sped wide on the left hand side and shot across Bannatyne who just got a hand to the ball but deflected it to Allan Pearce who powered the volley home from two yards out to tie the match up again at 2-2.
The plot took another twist when Waitakere went in front after ball fell to Jake Butler on the penalty spot who volleyed the ball home on 65 minutes to make it 3-2.
It took until the 73rd minute before young referee Campbell-Kirk Waugh brandished a yellow card with Chris Davies going into the book for a late slide on Ryan de Vries.
Team Wellington's final substitution saw the experienced midfielder Darron Cheriton come on in the 80th minute for Roddy Brown. It was an inspired substitution as you are likely to see this season as Cheriton's first touch resulted in his team drawing level at 3-3.
The game was far from over as chances fell to each side with Draper getting the ball stuck in his feet with just Robinson to beat and Bannatyne denying Totori in similar fashion.
But the final word belonged to Fifii with his oustanding finish putting a full stop on a fantastic game.
"I've scored a few good goals but none as good as that one," said an understandably ecstatic Fifii.
His coach echoed Fifii's thoughts.
"What can you say about a goal like that and a game like that ? We went out there knowing we needed to win and in the end we needed something special from Michael to do that," Stu Jacobs said.
"What a game though. Seven goals - two sides who just wanted to play football, it shows what the NZFC can deliver,"Jacobs said, "we had 14 players who went out there today and contributed everything to keeping our season alive. We'll remember this, and enjoy this, but two more games to go and we need 6 points from those".
One interested observer was Phoenix asistant Luciano Trani passing an eye over players who have been involved at the Phoenix and keeping an eye out for more who could.
"What a great game. That's as entertaining as you will see anywhere, and that finish reminded everyone of a finish from another man with dreadlocks not so long ago," Trani said referring to a strike by Eugene Dadi in the A-League earlier this season.
"It's always important for us to watch the next level of competition. It's a showcase to find more talent for the Phoenix and the A-league. We're always looking for players who we think could make the next step, even if they're young and may not be there quite yet".
"People come and watch us outside from outside Wellington and the least we can do is get out there and look at the players in all regions. It's all part of spreading out network, making contacts finding the next Smeltz, the next Barbarouses, the next Bertos,"Trani said.
"There were plenty out there today who have spent time with us - de Vries, Barron, Bannatyne, Aaron Scott, Roy Krishna, Tim Myers and a few more we'll keep an eye on based on that display".
Team Wellington's next match is away to Waikato FC at Centennial Park on Sunday 28 February, 2010. Waitakere United now focus on their 2010 O-League campaign when they face AS Magenta at Fred Taylor Park on Saturday 20 February, 2010.
1. James Bannatyne
1. Dan Robinson
3. Jamie Duncan
4. Tim Myers
4. Chris Bale (off 71)
7. Martin Bullock
5. Michael Winsauer
8. Brent Fisher
6. Chris Davies
9. Ben Totori
7. Cole Peverley
10. Allan Pearce
9. Greg Draper
11. Neil Sykes
13. Karl Whalen
12. Roy Krishna (off 45)
12. Bryan Little (off 45)
16. Neil Emblen
19. Andy Barron
17. Jake Butler
26. Roddy Brown (off 80)
21. Jack Pelter (off 87)
24. Jamie McKay
2. Jason Rowley (on 87)
17. Garry McDermott
3. Aaron Scott
22. Michael Fifii (on 45)
4. Zane Sole
28. Dan Keat (on 71)
20. Ryan de Vries (on 45)
14. Darren Cheriton (on 80)
22. Liam Little
=2 yellow cards
= red card
A windy day in Wellington (we're shocked too) overcast, but warm. Both sides are out warming up for this romantic encounter.
Late change here as Adam Birch has pulled up injured. Karl Whalen replaces him in the Team Wellington line-up.
We're off. Team Wellington the zoo end.
Brent Fisher wears a blow in the midriff from James Bannatyne as he carries on in to him. He's up again though.
Traded free kicks at either end. One straigght to Robinson and the other headed over Bannatyne's goal.
Pearce chases a ball down in the area and lays it back to Totori, but blocked by Whalen. Resulting corner goes long to Pearce but to close to the goal line and his voilley is well wide.
Team Wellington throw-in, deflected out for a throw by the defence.
Great run from Totori down the left, turned 3 or 4 players inside out, but the resulting ball to long
Draper almost through but a good last ditch tackle by Pelter stops the shooting chance.
Barron's turn for a break, cuts in but the angle is too narrow and he puts it wide of Robinson's post.
Winsauer's takeen a knock to the head. On all fours in the middle of the park. Much angst from his teammates over the play being allowed to continue. He's back up. Drop ball given to Wellington by Waitakere.
Krishna runs in to the area but Bale shows impressive pace to run him down and puts out for a corner.
Resulting corner, great finish from Krishna from wide and well outside the area.
Dan Robinson makes an error straight from the kick-off and puts the ball back in to the path of Wendy's Supa-Sundaes sponsored Greg Draper. 1-1.
Pearce disposses Little and breaks, resulting cross not accurate enough though. Ball comes wide again and cross in is missed by Krishna and Totori.
Andy Barron scored but there is some suggestion it might go to Dan Robinson who did a lot to make sure it went in the net. Barron corner knocked in by Robinson as he came for it at the near post.
Krishna audacious cross come shot goes just over the bar and on to the top of the net.
Still end to end, best chances are probably still Wellington's somewhat surprisingly.
Good ball in from Bryan little controlled well by Yellow Fever sponsored playerv Andy Barron in the area but he manages to shoot straight at Robinson. Unlucky.
Team Wellington have the ball in the back of the net, but Barron is adjudged to have fouled Robinson in the act of scoring by referee Waugh.
Tototi shoots from outside the area and it takes a deflection which spins just wide of the Team Wellington goal. Corner punched clear by Bannatyne.
One minute of extra time. Krishna down holding his hip so we have a stoppage.
2-1 at the half. An entertaining half with both sides having chances.
Changes at the half Fifii on for Bryan little and Krishna replaced by De Vries. Both injury related.
Goal line headed save by Kark Whalen, then deflects out for a corner. Some afters has Wellington captain Bannatyne fired up at the officials.
A pair of corners sees Bannatyne fouled by Emblen for a free kick.
Wellington break again, nice control and ball from Fifii is sent well over by Draper.
Waitakere go straight down the other end but Totori called offside. Struggling to keep up here.
2-2. Fisher breaks wide and shoots across Bannatyne who just gets a hand to the ball but deflects it to Pearce who powers the volley home from two yards out.
Barron breaks but is called offside just in time for contact with Neil Emblen.
De Vrie with a powerful shot outside the area is well held by Bannatyne. There is an excalating level of volume, feeling and angst coming from the pitch.
Brent Fisher breaks and shoots but a fast closing Bannatyne blocks with his face.
Fifii and Totori have a coming together, I don't think they are remiscing about games they played together in Honiara...
Jake Butler volleys home from the penalty spot. Wellington block two Waitakere shots but in the end it rolls to Butler who powers home.
Waitakere through again but blaze over. Still an even game, Waitakere doing better at getting numbers forward when they break though.
Chris Davies earns the first yellow of the match for a 'bobsled' on de Vries after the ball had gone. Waitakere's advantage negated by a poor finish.
Chris Bale off for Dan Keat.
Still going. Position changing, attacking forays but the final ball has deteriorated as players tire.
Darron Cheriton on for Roddy brown... and with his first touch he scores. A cleared ball he throws a foot at and it goes over Robinson and in. 3-3
Waitakere head down the pother end and de Vries comes together with Bannatyne, but bannatyne holds the ball and the physio is on for de Vries.
Totori runs on to a long ball from Robinson, bannatyne get's down well to save, out for a corner. Resulting corners see's Emblen cushion a header to the far post and Jamie Duncan clear off the line.
Fifii through two defenders but the ball gets stuck under his feet as the goal line approaches and his snapshot is high and wide.
Another Waitakere corner. Emblen's height and size proving a real challenge here.
Jason Rowley on for Jack Pelter.
Karl Whalen having a big day at the back for Team Wellington in his first game back from a two month skiing holiday. Last ditch clearance in the area this time
3 minutes of stoppage time, as TW break wide left with the Barron, who crosses but it get's stuck under Drapoers feet and Robinson gets to it.
Wellington mounting wave after wave of attack but not finding the last touch to get it in the bet despite flooding forward.
4-3 Wellington Keat plays the ball in to Fifii who pulls the big Eugene Dadi, with the overhead finish in the last thirty seconds.
And it's done. What. A. Game. Anyone want to write my match report for me ?