June 10, 2012
HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS – A first half hat trick from Chris Wood and a coolly taken 94th minute winner from Shane Smeltz fired the All Whites to a 4-3 win over the Solomon Islands in the OFC Nations Cup playoff for third place today.
After the disappointing semi final exit at the hands of New Caledonia on Friday, All Whites coach Ricki Herbert rang the changes, fielding a young side with eight players who will be lining up at the London Olympics and the remaining three no older than 25.
One of those Olympic players, Wood responded with goals in the 11th, 25th and 30th minutes – the first two from very close range headers and the third from a turn and shot that eluded the dive of Shadrock Ramoni – to have New Zealand seemingly in control, despite other missed chances, with a 3-0 lead at the break.
It was Wood’s first international hat trick, and the first by any All White on national duty since Vaughan Coveny and Brent Fisher both hit three against Tahiti in 2004.
The second half wobbles that have characterised the All Whites OFC Nations Cup campaign returned with the hosts scoring twice within nine minutes of the restart.
Himson Taleda smashed in a long range daisy-cutter through a forest of bodies two minutes after the break and Benjamin Totori’s 54th minute shot was struck just a fiercely although Jake Gleeson will be having nightmares about it after letting it slip through his grasp.
When substitute Totori struck again in the 89th minute the game looked to be heading straight to penalties but Smeltz timed his late run to perfection, latching on to a cross with just the keeper to beat and did so with a deft lob to seal the win.
“Today was about making a small dent back in our reputation, “ said New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert, “and getting our World Cup campaign back on track.”
“We threw that task to a really young group. It’s probably the youngest team I’ve put out on the pitch. There was a lot of responsibility for them to step up today.”
“The best thing we could do today was go out and win. The hurt [from the campaign] is not going away from me for a long time but maybe today has taken a little bit away.”
Skipper Tommy Smith , who was substituted early in the second half to remove the risk of a yellow card which would have ruled him out of New Zealand’s opening match in Stage 3 of World Cup qualifying in September, took some consolation in signing off the campaign with a victory.
“Obviously we would’ve preferred to be playing in the final but we knew we had a job to do and thankfully we got that win,” said Smith.
OFC Nations Cup
Playoff for third
New Zealand 4 (Chris WOOD 11’, 25’, 30’; Shane SMELTZ 90+4’)
Solomon Islands 3 (Himson TALEDA 47’ , Benjamin TOTORI 54’, 89’)
June 10, 2012
Lawson Tama Stadium
Honiara, Solomon Islands
New Zealand: 13-Jake GLEESON (GK), 2-Tim MYERS, 5-Tommy SMITH (captain / 15-Ivan VICELICH 53’), 6-Ian HOGG, 11-Marco ROJAS (9-Shane SMELTZ 77’), 16-Jeremy BROCKIE, 17-Kosta BARBAROUSES, 18-Aaron CLAPHAM, 19-Michael BOXALL, 20-Chris WOOD (21-Cameron HOWIESON 64’), 22-Tim PAYNE.
Substitutes not used: 1-Micahel O’KEEFFE (RGK), 3-Tony LOCHHEAD, 4-Ben SIGMUND, 8-Michael MCGLINCHEY, 10-Chris KILLEN, 12-Glen MOSS (RGK), 14-Rory FALLON, 23-Adam MCGEORGE.
Suspended: 7-Leo BERTOS.
Coach: Ricki HERBERT
Cautions: Ian HOGG 71’, Tim MYERS 78’, Jeremy BROCKIE 80’. Tim PAYNE 90+1’
Solomon Islands: 1-Shadrack RAMONI (GK), 4-Jeffery BULE, 5-Henry FA'ARODO, 6-Tome FAISI, 7-Abraham INIGA, 11-Nicholas MURI (19-Benjamin TOTORI 33’), 15-Seni NGAVA (13-Leslie NATE 46’), 17-Nelson SALE KILIFA, 18-Himson TELEDA, 21-Joshua TUASULIA (2-Hardies AENGARI 38’), 23-Aleck WICKHAM.
Substitutes not used: 9-Freddie KINI, 10-Joe LUWI, 12-James NAKA, 14-Joses NAWO, 16-Loni QARABA, 22-Jack WETNEY.Unavailable: 3-Mostyn BEUI, 20-Felix RAY Jnr (GK).
Coach: Jacob MOLI
Cautions: Tome FAISI 82’