Eastern Suburbs have continued their perfect start to the ISPS Handa Premiership to be top of the table after three rounds.
The Danny Hay coached side, who had beaten defending champions Team Wellington and Southern United in their opening two fixtures, edged Hamilton Wanderers 2-1 to continue their momentum.
All Whites midfielder Moses Dyer opened the scoring in the 62nd minute. Newcomer Andre De Jong laid on a great pass for Dyer and he hammered home with a powerful drive.
Wanderers came back into the match and got back on level terms when Jordan Shaw scored a scrappy goal in the 79th minute. The Lily Whites did not panic and were able to claim all three points when NZ U-17 captain Max Mata headed home from a Dyer corner in the final minutes.
Today in Auckland, crosstown rivals Auckland City FC reminded everyone of their title credentials when they put away Canterbury United Dragons 3-1 in a professional display in Auckland.
The Navy Blues, who last week put away Waitakere United 5-0 in Auckland, were quickly out of the blocks when Callum McCowatt found space and reeled off a fine shot from his left foot in the ninth minute.
It was just the start Ramon Tribulietx was looking for and there was more to come when Emiliano Tade looked to be well covered but wriggled clear in the box and finished expertly with his left.
The hosts led 2-0 at the break and did not look back. McCowatt showed his composure in front of goal again when he half-volleyed home with a superb finish in the 65th minute to take a 3-0 lead.
From that point on Auckland City were in complete control. Canterbury did get a consolation goal when Travis Nicklaw headed home on the end of a long-range free kick in injury time, but it was a day where they were off the pace of the former champions who move into a share of second.
Down in Napier, Team Wellington got off to the perfect start to a local derby against Hawke’s Bay United when Justin Gulley scored inside the first 10 minutes.
Birhanun Taye levelled the scores for the hosts when Bjorn Christensen went down in the penalty box. Referee John Rowbury showed consistency and pointed to the spot and Taye made no mistake with a slow, deliberate finish. Both teams had their chances to finish with all three points but it finished as a 1-1 draw between these two consistent semi-final contenders.
Further south, Waitakere United bounced back in emphatic style to record their third win of the season. The five-time ISPS Handa Premiership champions, who had drawn with Canterbury United and went down to Auckland City 5-0 last week, got off to a flying start against the Wellington Phoenix U-20s when they lead 3-0 at the break. Yuki Ohtsuka (17’), Keegan Linderboom (35’) and Tom Shaw (40’) got on the score-sheet on a fine day in Wellington, before Shaw added his second in the 76th and Andre Estay completed a great outing for Chris Milicich’s men in the capital.
Across the Cook Strait, Tasman United and Southern United played out a 2-2 thriller at Trafalgar Park. Tasman goalkeeper Corey Wilson was red carded in the 74th minute for handling the ball outside the box which meant defender Daniel Allan was handed the gloves for a frenetic finish. Southern United, who have impressed in the early stages of the ISPS Handa Premiership, got off to the ideal start when Danny Furlong converted a penalty in the ninth minute.
Allan responded coming into after half time when he converted a fine Pearson corner with a tap-in from six yards out. Kieran Smith came on in the 52nd minute and scored seven minutes later to give the home team a well-celebrated 2-1 lead.
Wilson had his moment of madness and the locals waited with baited breath as they looked to hang on with Allan with the gloves. He did admirably well, but could not prevent Andrew Ridden finishing in the 76th minute. Southern United had another few chances to win the game in the closing stages but they could not finish and the points were shared.
ISPS Handa Premiership Round Three Results
Eastern Suburbs 2 (Moses Dyer 62’, Max Mata 87’)
Hamilton Wanderers 1 (Jordan Shaw 79’) HT 0-0
Hawke’s Bay United 1 (BirhanunTaye 40’)
Team Wellington 1 (Justin Gulley 10’) HT 1-1
Wellington Phoenix 0
Waitakere United 5 (Yuki Ohtsuka 17’, Keegan Linderboom 35’, Tom Shaw 40’, 76’, Andre Estay 88’) HT 0-3
Tasman United 2 (Daniel Allan 39’, Kieran Smith 59’)
Southern United 2 (Danny Furlong pen 9’, Andrew Ridden 76’) HT 1-1
Auckland City 3 (Callum McCowatt 9’ 65’, Emiliano Tade 16’)
Canterbury United Dragons 1 (Travis Nicklaw 90’ +2’) HT 2-0