NZFC - Week 17
Porirua Park, Wellington
Sunday 14 March, 2010
Chris Bale 69
Paul Dirou 74
Halftime: 0-0 Referee:Kevin Stoltenkamp Crowd: 125
by Dale Warburton at Porirua Park
Team Wellington booked an NZFC playoff berth this afternoon, after edging out Canterbury United 2-1 in an entertaining game at Trust Porirua Park.
The 125 patrons who turned out on a picture perfect Wellington day must have felt a touch of déjà vu as substitute Michael Fifii again scored a late winner for the home side, his third in as many games.
This time, however, instead of a piece of individual brilliance, Fifii relied heavily on the excellent build up play from his teammates, and an ounce of luck.
After a sustained period of pressure, All White Andy Barron found himself in space on the right hand flank.
Barron swung in a cross towards Greg Draper, whose deft header drifted into the path on Fifii.
As Canterbury defenders appealed to the linesman for offside, Fifii brought the ball under control and attempted to slip it past Tom Batty.
Batty - who had earlier made a number of excellent saves - pulled off another from point blank range.
Unfortunately the rebound fell to the feet of Fifii, who slotted the winner into the empty net from just few yards and sent Team Wellington into the playoffs.
Prior to kick-off, the smart money would have been on a 0-0 draw after Otago failed to pick up all three points against Manawatu on Saturday.
But despite the home side only needing a draw to progress to the playoffs, and the Dragons having already secured their berth, both teams threw caution to the wind, resulting in a free-flowing and entertaining match.
Team Wellington could easily have taken the lead as earlier as the thirteenth minute.
Batty was called into action after Draper laid of a cross into the pass of Barron. The resulting shot well tipped over the cross bar from the Canterbury custodian.
Moments later, the Draper-Barron combination again broke open the backline. With a crisp pass, Barron found Draper with his back to goal inside the penalty box, and although his turn created a yard or two of space, his second touch took him too close to goal, and the Canterbury keeper saved the blushes of his defenders.
On 28 minutes, Draper was again denied by Batty. His turn and shot on the edge of the box was equally matched by Batty.
Canterbury too had numerous chances in the first half to open the scoring.
However, poor finishing rather than outstanding goalkeeping prevented them from doing so.
The first culprit to squander a gilt-edged chance was Matt Boyd on 25 minutes. Boyd found himself unmarked six yards out from goal during a corner, but could not direct his header goal ward.
Paul Dirou also failed to test Bannatyne in goal despite finding himself unmarked inside the box. His first touch bounced waist high, and as the covering defence closed him down, his side volley sailed high over the bar.
After an even opening 30 minutes, Barron slowly started to exert his presence in the centre of midfield. He was at the heart of most attacking movements for Team Wellington.
In the first half referee Kevin Stoltenkamp waived away a rather optimistic penalty claim after Barron’s probing run deep in the box ended with him on the ground.
In the second half, the All White midfielder also rattled the cross bar twice from distance.
It was substitute Chris Bale who opened the scoring for Team Wellington. Bale received the ball 30 yards from goal, took one touch, and let rip. The long range screamer nestled into the top left hand side of the net and gave Tom Batty no chance.
The goal shocked Canterbury into life, and their response was almost immediate. An intricate passing move found Dirou on the edge of the box. Unmarked, Dirou calmly picked his spot, and side footed past Bannatyne.
Enter the man fast garnering a reputation as the NZFC’s quintessential “supersub” Michael Fifii.
The diminutive Solomon Islands player ensured Wellington football fans had something to cheer about this weekend when he rounded out the scoring once again for the capital side.
“It’s been unbelievable, for me and the team, over the last few weeks”, he said after the game. “The boys aren’t satisfied with just making the playoff. We want to be in the final”.
Post game, Team Wellington coach Stu Jacobs hailed the depth of the squad this season.
“When you’ve players like Bale, Watson, Fifii and company sitting on the bench, you know you’ve got a pretty strong squad” stated Jacobs.
Although happy with the result, Jacobs was clearly frustrated that this side will have to wait three weeks before their playoff matches.
“It clearly favours the two Auckland teams. We’ll look at playing a couple of local clubs side to keep up our match fitness”.
The win moves Team Wellington above Canterbury Untied on the NZFC standings into 3rd place on 21 points – although their opponent in three weeks time will not be known until next weekend, when Canterbury host Auckland City.
GK. J. Bannatyne
GK. T. Batty
2. A Birch
4. G. Rowe
3. J Duncan
5. M. Boyd
5. M. Winsauer
7. A. Clapham
6. C. Davies
9. R. Kamo (off 74)
7. C Peverley
11. T. Lancaster
9. G. Draper (off 91)
12. N. Wortelboer
12. B. Little (off 63)
15. P. Dirou
13. K Whalen
16. D. Burns
14. D. Cheriton (off 56)
7. G. Collins
19. A. Barron
19. D. Overton
RGK J. McKay
RGK J. Buchanan
4. C. Bale (on 56)
6. A. Pitman
17. G. McDermott
13. H. Frame (on 74)
18. T. Watson (on 91)
20. D. McGarr
22. M. Fifii (on 63)
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Lovely day here in Porirua, believe it or not but there is barely a hint of wind.
Both teams struggling to maintain position as Batty cleans up a overhit through ball.
Lofted deep cross from Overton is taken comfortably by Bannatyne
Draper called back for handball in the centre circle. Resulting long free kick is head wide by Dirou.
Out swinging free kick delivered by Little is punched well clear by Batty.
Deep cross is laid off nicely Draper for All White Andy Barron, whose shot is tipped over by Batty. Resulting out-swinging free kick is well claimed by the keeper.
Lovely through ball by Barron sets Draper. Unfortunately for Team Wellington, his touch on the 180 degree turn lets him down and it rolls safely into the hands of Batty.
First yellow of the day. Cole Peverley slides in and get all man and no ball. Clapham's free kick from 25 yards skims the right hand post.
Dangerous free kick whipped in by Lancaster is flicked out for a corner. Equally dangerous corner is somehow clear by Team Wellington after Boyd fails to connect his header from 5 yards.
Greater turn and shot by Draper on the edge of the box. However, a great save from Batty prevents Team Wellington from taking the lead.
Andy Barron gets a stern talking to by the referee. No card is produced.
Game is opening up with numerous chances to both sides, the latest being from Clapman, whose shot fails to test Bannatyne.
Dirou butches a great chance for the Dragons, but his side volley is well over the bar.
First card for the Dragon as Lancaster chops down Little.
Penalty claim turned down as Barron goes to a ground after a probing run.
And that is half time. Pretty open by all account.
Player walking back onto the field as 'We've gotta get out of this place' rings across the PA system. Someone is having a dig at Porirua.
Another penalty claim for the home side, this time for handball, is turned down by the ref.
Dangerous free kick is whipped to the back post by Clapham. Whalen heads clears as Bannatyne stays on his line.
Draper out sprints the Dragon's backline, and lays off a beautiful pass for Barron. Barron's first time shot well tipped over the bar.
First substitution of the day for the home side. Cheriton off, Bale on.
And the second substitution. Fifii on for Little.
Rowe first time volley sails over the bar following a corner from the right hand side.
Another excellent chance for the Dragon goes missing, again from a corner. This time Boyd's free header is skims the cross bar.
Peverley tries a Bertos like 40 yard screamer. Doesn't trouble the keeper.
Barron hits the cross bar with a 25 yard free kick. Dragon scramble the ball free, but only as far as Barron who deliver another deep cross. Whalen's header is inches away from opening the scoring.
GOAL! Drives a 25 yard screamer into the top left side of the goal. Nothing the keeper could do about that one.
GOAL! Immediate reply by Canterbury. Dirou finds himself with space at the edge of the box, and side foots his shot past Bannatyne.
Frame lashes a straight drive from just in side the box, but that too is off target
GOAL! Fifii does it again - another late goal! Cross from the right hand side is headed down to the path of Fifii. First shot is initially saved by Batty by the rebound falls back to the feet of Fifii who taps it in from 1 yard.
Barron again hits the cross bar from distance.
4th officials indicates there will be 3 mins of added time
Subsitutition for Team Wellington: Watson on for Draper.
Watson finds himself with time and space near the byline, but has no support, and put his shoot wide of the near post.
And it's all over. Team Wellington book themselves a semi final place with a 2-1 victory. As Santy would say, it is disco time here in Porirua if you are a Team Wellington supporter