Usual suspects lead the charge

Canterbury United striker Stephen Hoyle, left, celebrates his match-winning goal with Gary Ogilvie and Dan Terris. Photo: John Davidson / www.photosport.nz

The benchmark in the ISPS Handa Premiership continues to be set by the leading duo of Auckland City and Team Wellington while the Canterbury United Dragons have resurrected their season and Southern United continue to climb the table after the fifth round of action this weekend.

Auckland and Wellington both secured comprehensive victories – over the Wellington Phoenix Reserves and Hamilton Wanderers respectively – but the margin of victory was much tighter for Canterbury and Southern, who both came from behind to defeat Eastern Suburbs and Hawke’s Bay United.

The round kicked off in low key fashion on Saturday at Trafalgar Park in Nelson as Tasman United and Waitakere United were both looking to bounce back from defeats but couldn’t fully do so in battling to a scoreless draw. The hosts were presented with a chance to earn a late win when Waitakere were reduced to 10 men for the final moments, Nino Lacagnina receiving his marching orders in the 84th minute for a second bookable offence.

But they could not capitalise and were left to reflect on a third consecutive week without a win. While frustrated at his side’s inability to find the net, Tasman coach Davor Tavich felt a loss for either team would have been harsh.

“I think a draw was a fair result today – I don’t think either team did enough to win the game,” he said. “I think we are on the right track, we just have a few things that we need to tidy up in the final third and I think the goals will come.”

The scorers were kept far busier today in a goal-laden set of matches. The action began with an early kick off at the latest ground to host ISPS Handa Premiership football for the first time, Sunnyvale Park in Dunedin, but it appeared initially that the change of surroundings had not had a positive effect on Southern.

Hawke’s Bay travelled south in possession of the league’s only unbeaten record and looked on course to keep it when Alex Palezevic gave them the lead in spectacular fashion, thumping an unstoppable strike past Liam Little from 25 yards just before the break. But, just as they had a week earlier to secure a dramatic win over Waitakere, Southern came back into the game late on.

Firstly, Andrew Ridden equalised with a looped effort over Ruben Parker with just under 20 minutes remaining and it then got even better for Southern with one of the last kicks of the game. Parker pulled off a double save but could not manage to keep out the third attempt from Garbhan Coughlan as Southern were again able to claim a last-gasp victory.

“I think coming from behind is becoming a bit of a speciality for the team,” said goalscoring hero Ridden, who had entered the fray early on to replace the injured Danny Furlong. “We’ve got a lot of good characters in the dressing room and just a strong mentality – we know if we go a goal down that we can still get back into it.”

Southern may soon have competition for the tag of comeback kings though as Canterbury pulled off the same feat at home to Eastern Suburbs. Yet to post a win and rocked by the recent withdrawal of talisman Aaron Clapham, nothing less than three points would do for the Dragons at English Park in Christchurch. But it seemed there was little chance of that happening as Suburbs raced into a 2-0 first-half lead through Jordan Vale and Derek Tieku.

The hosts were still facing a two-goal deficit as the clock ticked past the hour mark but the comeback was soon on as James Pendrigh laid the foundations with a free kick from just outside the box. Stephen Hoyle then brought his side level with seven minutes remaining before notching again deep into stoppage time to claim a vital win.

“We didn’t get to the levels were wanted in the first half, it was a disappointing performance,” said Gary Ogilvie, who has assumed the captain’s armband from Clapham. “We said we were going to come out in the second half and give it everything and we did that. The boys dug really deep today so we’re really pleased with the three points.”

Auckland City also put in a strong second-half showing up at Kiwitea Street, leading 1-0 at the interval through an Emiliano Tade goal before blowing away the Phoenix – who were able to include senior professionals Hamish Watson, Adam Parkhouse and Lewis Italiano – with a rapid-fire burst of net-busting midway through the second period.

Daewook Kim’s well-timed run saw him shake his marker and meet a 65th-minute Tade corner with a firm header and the dust had barely settled when the visitors gave the ball away in front of their own area and Fabrizio Tavano was put through to make it 3-0. Tade then compounded the misery for the Wee Nix by sneaking a shot under the body of Italiano for the Argentinean’s eighth ISPS Handa Premiership goal in his last five games.

“We created two or three very clear chances in the first half but it was pretty even in the first half hour of the game,” Auckland coach Ramon Tribulietx said. “But we kept trying and full credit to our players for playing against a very talented side with some players who play regularly in the A-League. It was a 4-0 result but when you look at the game it was a lot tighter so full credit to the Phoenix for making it difficult.”

While late drama and improved second-half performances seemed to be the order of the day, that trend was bucked by Team Wellington as the defending champions travelled to Hamilton Wanderers for the round’s live televised match. The visitors were obviously inspired by the cameras and charged into a two-goal lead before Wanderers had barely had time to catch breath, Angus Kilkolly striking twice in the first eight minutes.

He completed his hat-trick with a header on the stroke of half-time but there was somehow still time for Hamilton to give themselves a glimmer of hope before the break, a low Armin Pasagic effort striking the foot of Cole Peverley and looping agonisingly over a stranded Scott Basalaj in the Wellington goal.

But, unlike elsewhere, a full fight back didn’t materialise and there was no further scoring in the second half as Wellington joined Auckland at the top of the table and cellar-dwellers Wanderers were forced to continue their search for a first win.

For the ISPS Handa Premiership table please click here

ISPS Handa Premiership Round Five Results

Tasman United 0
Waitakere United 0
HT: 0-0

Southern United 2 (Andrew Ridden 71’, Garbhan Coughlan 90’)
Hawke’s Bay United 1 (Alex Palezevic 43’)
HT: 0-1

Canterbury United Dragons 3 (James Pendrigh 64’, Stephen Hoyle 83’, 90’ + 3’)
Eastern Suburbs 2 (Jordan Vale 22’, Derek Tieku 44’)
HT: 0-2

Auckland City 4 (Emiliano Tade 39’, 68’, Daewook Kim 65’, Fabrizio Tavano 66’)
Wellington Phoenix Reserves 0
HT: 1-0

Hamilton Wanderers 1 (Armin Pasagic 45’ + 1’)
Team Wellington 3 (Angus Kilkolly 3’, 8’, 44’)
HT: 1-3

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