The impressive start to life for Eastern Suburbs in the Stirling Sports Premiership has carried over into the National Youth League with the Aucklanders leading the table on goal difference after two rounds.
Following a break for the Labour weekend holiday, the country’s elite competition for young talent returned over the weekend and brought second consecutive wins for Suburbs, Hamilton Wanderers and Auckland City, who are all now setting the pace.
It was a memorable weekend for Suburbs with the senior team’s first home match in the national league for nearly four decades – a 1-0 win over Hawke’s Bay United – being complemented by the youth side’s 4-1 success over the same opponents while the Wellington Phoenix and Auckland City also joined their senior counterparts in recording wins.
Four different players found the net for Suburbs – namely Matt Palmer, Marowa Tawanda, Art Twigg and Charles Spragg – while Hawke’s Bay’s consolation goal was scored by Jorge Akers.
“We’re a club that’s brand new to the competition so to get two wins out of two at this stage is absolutely fantastic, especially as it’s been against two relatively strong teams,” said Suburbs assistant coach Matt Maslak.
The Phoenix, whose National Youth League line-up is made up of U-17 players from the club’s youth academy, were also in great form in front of goal, sweeping aside Team Wellington 5-1 in a capital derby. Willem Ebbinge, Matthew Conroy, Sam Sutton, Oscar Browne and Tullamore MacFadyen were all on target. Team Wellington were not able to reply until stoppage time, when Aaron McDonald pounced to make their only impact on the scoreboard.
There were also plenty of goals in Hamilton but the contest was a lot closer, Wanderers holding off a late charge from Waitakere United to emerge as 4-3 victors. Liam Hayes struck a hat-trick for the hosts and his net-bulging exploits were supplemented by a lone Paul Clout strike. Mitchell Nash had equalised Hayes’ first goal early on but Waitakere then appeared out of the game at 4-1 down before late efforts from Drew Farnsworth and Jordan Hearn gave them hope of pinching a result, which ultimately came to nothing as Wanderers hung on.
Waitakere’s great rivals, Auckland City, had more luck in defeating Tasman United 2-1 thanks to the first-half goals of Ignacio Machuca and Jack Anderson. Tasman threatened a comeback when Matt Tod-Smith scored mid-way through the second half but couldn’t complete the job, leaving co-coach Davor Tavich a frustrated figure.
“We let in two goals in the first 20 minutes or so but from then on we played really well, especially in the second half,” he said. “We scored one but just couldn’t find a second.”
Auckland coach Andy Peat was pleased with the character displayed by his charges in closing out the win.
“Overall, we held on for the result and we battled through with our performance,” he said.
“We could’ve shown a bit more composure with some of the chances we had but our combination play was good and we kept our nerve to win the match.”
The round’s only other game also featured a 2-1 scoreline, Southern United upsetting Canterbury United in a South Island derby. Lyle Matthysen put the Cantabrians ahead just after the break but Riley Anderson drew Southern level with just over 20 minutes to go before Anton Fitzgerald found a late winner.
The National Youth League returns this weekend with another full schedule in Round Three, to view the fixtures and standings please click here
National Youth League Round Two
Wellington Phoenix 5 (Willem Ebbinge 19’, Matthew Conroy 29’, Sam Sutton 56’, Oscar Browne 65’, Tullamore MacFadyen 78’)
Team Wellington 1 (Aaron McDonald 91’)
Hamilton Wanderers 4 (Liam Hayes 4’, 33’, 39’, Paul Clout 59’)
Waitakere United 3 (Mitchell Nash 7’, Drew Farnsworth 81’, Jordan Hearn 89’)
Canterbury United 1 (Lyle Matthysen 47’)
Southern United 2 (Riley Anderson 69’, Anton Fitzgerald 84’)
Auckland City 2 (Ignacio Machuca 14’, Jack Anderson 22’)
Tasman United 1 (Matt Tod-Smith 64’)
Hawke’s Bay United 1 (Jorge Akers 78’)
Eastern Suburbs 4 (Matt Palmer 3’, Marowa Tawanda 40’, Art Twigg 44’, Charles Spragg 81’)