NZFC - Round 17,
13 March 2010
Halftime: 1 - 1 Referee: Chris Kerr Crowd: 180
by Rab Smith at Carisbrook nzfc.co.nz
A 1-1 draw has left Otago's NZFC play-off hopes in the hands of their rivals and slammed the door shut on Manawatu after a sombre afternoon at Carisbrook today.
The race for a New Zealand Football Championship play-off berth produced a predictably tense competitive match but failed to produce the result that would keep both teams hopes alive.
It all looked so good for Otago when Stu Kelly darted through a statuesque Manawatu defence to stab the ball past keeper Ross Nicholson – but Fleming could only watch in frustration as Otago allowed Manawatu back into the game.
"After being third on the table for six or eight weeks we didn’t do ourselves justice. Now the season is over."
Fleming's grim assessment doesn't take into account the mathematical possibility of qualification that still exists.
If Canterbury United can beat Team Wellington 4-0 and Hawke's Bay United fail to cause an upset win over Auckland, then Otago - level on points with Team Wellington - will qualify on goal difference.
The chances of that scenario seem long given Canterbury have never beaten Wellington on their own patch in six years of trying.
Nevertheless, Canterbury cannot afford to travel to the capital lacking motivation with the opportunity to seal an arguably preferable semi-final with the minor premiership runners-up at stake.
The identity of the opponents in that case look likely to be Waitakere United - a team Canterbury dissected clinically at English Park 4-0 earlier this season.
If Team Wellington beat Canterbury and Hawke's Bay United pull off a shock win over Auckland, it would leave Canterbury in the awkward position of having to beat Auckland in their final regular season match to qualify for the top four.
Intriguingly, if Canterbury managed that, they would face Auckland twice further in the semi-finals, assuming of course the defending champions finish in first place.
A draw between Canterbury and Team Wellington would lift both into the play-offs but leave Stu Jacobs men with the unpalatable prospect of an Auckland City showdown.
There are enough scenarios in the mix to ensure tomorrow's Team Wellington v Canterbury United match will be far from a dead rubber.
For Fleming, the complexities of tomorrow's final three matches of the weekend hardly cast a pall on his impressive first season as Otago boss.
Its all a far cry from the doom and gloom that hung over Otago United in previous seasons.
For YoungHeart Manawatu the blow was more expected given their hopes of qualification were already faint before today's match.
It made today's result no less difficult to digest for their coach.
Sova was philosophical regarding his horrendous injury tally this season that effectively halved his squad.
"With a full injury free squad we could really have challenged for top honours,’"he said.
Takayuki Omi struck the fatal blow when Otago hesitated and allowed the tiny striker to zip in to intercept a wayward back pass and calmly stroked the ball past James Waggett from a narrow angle just before halftime.
Campbell Banks led the Manawatu attack well, and Omi and his similar sized mate Pablo Moya produced some memorable moments in attack for the visitors.
Tristan Prattley - one of the best performed defenders in the NZFC this season - delivered several telling crosses, launched shots, and Stu Kelly regularly robbed the ball from Manawatu and set up attacks. Andy Coburn also knocked passes around, and Nathan Knox got into good positions.
The irony of needing a favour from arch-rivals Canterbury will not be lost on Otago fans.
Stranger things have happened in football.
1 James Waggett (GK)
1 Ross Nicholson (GK)
3 Tristan Prattley
2 Nobuyoshi Ishi
5 Mike Smith
4 Colin Falvey
6 Tom Sadd
6 Matt Kennedy
8 Stu Kelly
10 Adam Cowan (C)
9 Ryan Faichnie
11 Scott Robson
10 Dave Dugdale
13 Nathan Cooksley
11 Andy Coburn
14 Marco Paracchini
17 Tim Horner (C)
17 Des Fa,aioaso
18 Nathan Knox
18 Takayuki Omi
20 Ben Light
23 Campbell Banks
2 Mike Abbott
5 Josh Chettlebutgh
4 Dave Shaw
12 Michael Crisford
12 James Reichwein
15 Caleb Duncan
13 Cam Burns (R.GK)
19 Matt Borren (R.GK)
15 Tom Connor
22 Pablo Moya
16 Morgan Day
21 Harley Rodeka
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Welcome to Otago Utd's last home game for the 2009/10 season, we are at Carisbrook, the wind is gusty and with darken clouds in the sky we may see some rain on this otherwise firm pitch, a little while and we should see the teams take the pitch.
Otago to kick
Early shot on goal by Robson, wind pushes it off to the side
Otago try making a push, they are closed down quickly
Falvey blocks a shot coming into Manawatu's goal with a head out for a corner
Corner goes too far and Otago unable to make a move back into attack
Free kick by Prattley goes High and curles off to the side landing behind Manawatu's goal
Free kick by Smith put onto Manawatu's far post, Prattley makes the required run and gets his head to it but goes just wide of the upright
Bad first touch on the back line by Sadd almosts puts Otago in danger, Smith manages to knock it backwards over his head to clear just in time
Faichnie picks up a pass in center of the goal, the defenders protest for offside but no whistle is blown as Faichnie turns and knocks it far post, GOAL!!!
A chance for Otago to increase their lead gone as Nicholson collects the bal close to his goal
Manawatu's defenders are having trouble to clear the ball as it hit sends it directly upwards coming down to a 50-50 between players
Tackle on edge of Manawatu's 18 by Paracchini brings down Kelly at the same time, no whistle is given
Coburn outs himself in the way to stop Paracchini from clearing the ball
Another shot on goal by Knox as he is given the ball as he runs towards goal, he sends it low and hard but still drifts outside the left upright
Otago are making the runs towards goal but they can't seam to get the ball to players feet, each seam to be getting cut out by the defence
Otago hold a good line as Manawatu try to push forward hard and make a move, but the defence deals with them and pushes it back towards Manawatu's end
Pressure and a good back line from Otago put Banks offside
Horner takes the elbow from Banks to the face and holds his nose as he gets up and keeps playing
Great cross in from Paracchini into Waggetts far post, Waggett puts his hand up and palms it over the crossbar
Again Otago's defence is under pressure as Manawatu pushes hard into Otago's 18 in a chance to return one tot he back of the net
Omi Takes a quick freekick from a push and sends it to the right where Robson picks it up and crosses it in only to have a rebound from Otago's defender send it upwards and as it comes down cleared up the field
Knox is given a word to by the ref for throwing the ball away after the ref blew the whistle
Manawatu have picked up the pace and the skill and are closing down a lot more, trying to give themselves as much of a chance of getting back into this game
Horner saves the day as the ball goes past Otago's defence and Robson makes good pace on it, Horner clears with a quick side kick
GOAL!!! Omi intercepts the ball as Waggett calls for it as it reaches his 18, Omi sneaks through and knocks it out to his right and keeps going giving it a tap back to his left and it rolls into Otago's goal
Omi is given a knock and walks off the field for a few seconds then returns to play
Silly passing by Otago are not doing them anygood in fround of goal.
Falvey again stops the ball from in his teams goal with a quick head out over the line
4th Offical shows 1' extra time
Half time, score Otago Utd 1 - 1 Manawatu
Kelly is taken down and play halts as he is checked by the ref
Banks takes a crack at Otago's goal but again it heads wide and Prattley picks up the loose ball
Cowan takes a freekick from inside Manawatu's half and ends up inside Otago's 18, Otago's defence clears quickly
Banks runs around 3 Otago players and gets inside Otago's 6 yard box, only to knock it high over the cross bar, Otago's defence looks to have holes
There is a lot more pushing and shoving as players try to get the ball
Nicholson jumps with his hand in the air to palm the ball forward, he catches it as he lands and sends it up field
Otago unlucky to meet the ball before Nicholson, as a great pass is put through center of Manawatu's goal again
YELLOW CARD to Knoxs for language as he brings down a striker just outside Otago's box
Otago form a counter attack getting up in front of Manawatu's goal and a pass to the right is too much for Kelly to get a foot to
Both teams are making mistakes and the level of football feels to have droped
Another foul is pulled up by Kerr, with the players arguing about it but get back to the game
Nicholson is down hurt after a quick sprint, jump, grab of the ball and landing on back
Nicholson is back up and walking around and play is resumed
Otago defence is back in force for a corner, a Manawatu head makes it to the ball first and sends it directly at Waggett who holds onto the ball
Banks intercepts a back pass and runs around the two center defenders but as he takes the shot Horner gets in the way and blocks
Ref has a word to 4th offical and Otago's coach Melc Flemming is told by Kerr to leave the field of play as his language is not welcome, Flemming leaves with little protest, spectators are upset by the pause in the game
YELLOW CARD to Horner for bad tackle
Spectators are upset that ref didn't see a hand ball on the near side of the pitch
Sadd puts in the effort to put the ball into Manawatu's box but no one is ready to receive the ball
Still unable to make any ground, but play has been limited to mostly Otago's half as they keep trying to push up
YELLOW CARD to Kennedy for cleaning out an Otago player on the ball
Omi takes another run through Otago's defence under pressure he takes a shot that goes high over Waggett's cross bar
Nicholson gets his palms to the ball and pads it as far as he can to the edge of his 18, the rebound is then cleared
Knox's through ball is left as the need to turn catches Coburn by surprise
Omi puts the ball across Otago's goal to the head of Fa'aiuaso but he didn't get enough on it to do anything
YELLOW CARD to Falvey for hard tackle/pushing
Great save by Nicholson as he keeps his team in it
Another save by Nicholson as he makes a point blank save protecting his goal from anything
Slip with the ball by Waggett makes him leave the box and clear the ball on the bounce
Manawatu are trying to close in as time ticks down
Abbott uses the full length of his leg to block Omi from having another chance at goal in Otago's 6yard box
4th offical shows 4' added time
Otago are working at holding their defence in the last couple on mins, ref pulls up an offside that helps with this task
Abbott takes a crack at goal with the ball just high of the crossbar
Wagget gets the ball and sends it down the pitch as quickly as he got it
Ref blows full time, Final score Otago Utd 1 - 1 Manawatu