Suburbs and Wanderers open with wins

Eastern Suburbs' Samuel Burfoot in action during the 2016/17 Stirling Sports Premiership, Wellington U20 Phoenix v Eastern Suburbs, David Farrington Park, Wellington, New Zealand. Saturday 22 October 2016. Photo: Raghavan Venugopal /

There was huge anticipation for both Eastern Suburbs and Hamilton Wanderers on the opening day of the Stirling Sports Premiership and even though they didn’t deliver perfect performances they got the result they were after.

Eastern Suburbs, who returned to the top flight of football in New Zealand after a 37 year absence, scored twice in two minutes to come from behind and defeat the Wellington Phoenix U-20 side at a windy David Farrington Park in the capital.

The age group Phoenix side went ahead in the 52nd minute when a through ball from NZ U-20 rep Jack-Henry Sinclair was well finished by Willem Ebbinge. The match changed dramatically when the Lily Whites levelled through All White greater squad member Sam Burfoot three minutes later. In quick-fire fashion Tim Payne pounced on a deflection to slot home which proved to be the decisive goal in the 58th minute.

Eastern Suburbs Head Coach Malcolm McPherson said it was not a perfect performance but he was pleased to begin with a win in his first game in the Premiership.

“We talked at half time about being a little bit more assertive,” he said. “We were with the wind in the second half and that allowed us to have a little more territory and that paid dividends. One with a press with Sam and another around the side. We got in that position quite a few times in the game so it was nice to get reward.”

McPherson said, after a long absence from the Premiership, there were a number of positives as he looks to build a competitive unit.

“It’s a new squad of players and we are gelling as a group. It is nice to gel early enough to get three points. That young Phoenix side will cause teams problems this year so we are pleased to come here and get the result.”

Wellington Phoenix U-20 Head Coach Andy Hedge was frustrated to have been the better team in the second half and not take anything from the match. He believed their first up loss at home could be exactly what his young team needs.

“It is a bit of a wake-up call to be honest for our boys,” said Hedge. “If you dominate 45 minutes like we did. You have to take your chances and we didn’t. We take positives from the match but there are lots of areas to improve as well.”

Hedge said his side clocking off after they scored was hard to watch from the side lines.

“The first one came not two minutes after we scored which was disappointing that we managed to switch off to what they were doing and they scored two minutes after that so it is a period that we need to look at and find out why we lacked concentration.”

Meanwhile Wanderers, in the Premiership for the first time, got off to the perfect start when after nine minutes defender Tom Davis scored on a rebound from a set piece to give his side the lead.

Davis, who was the MVP in Birkenhead United’s historic first win of the Chatham Cup Final in September, picked up where he left off in scoring for his new team.

The Blue and Whites were dominated by Southern United for the majority of the second half but they held on for scrappy win at home at Porritt Stadium to begin with three points. Wanderers Head Coach Mark Cossey was pleased with the early win but wasn’t getting carried away.

“On a positive note we got three points but we don’t feel like we played particularly well,” said Cossey. “It was hot and it was the first game for the boys so it was a new thing for them and we came away with three points so we have to be happy but we’ll look to improve.”

Southern United, who are looking to rally after finishing with the wooden spoon in 2015 – 2016, were the better side in the second 45 minutes but could not deliver the quality to score.  Cossey said Wanderers noticeably dropped off and a key work on going forward would be their fitness levels.

Southern Head Coach Paul O’Reilly was disappointed his side didn’t come away with at least a draw after they conceded a “cheap goal” from a set piece.

“We dominated most of the second half and created numerous chances and we are disappointed that we didn’t come away with something.”

The first round of the Stirling Sports Premiership continues tomorrow with Auckland City FC hosting Team Wellington at Kiwitea Street in what is a repeat of this year’s final. The match is live on SKY Sport 2. Meanwhile Canterbury United will host another new side Tasman United at English Park before Hawkes Bay United and Waitakere United battle on Monday afternoon in Napier.

Wellington Phoenix U-20 1 (Willem Ebbinge 53’) Eastern Suburbs 2 (Sam Burfoot 56’, Tim Payne 58’)
HT 0-0
At David Farrington Park in Wellington

Hamilton Wanderers 1 (Tom Davis 9’) Southern United 0
HT 1-0
At Porritt Stadium in Hamilton

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