The country’s brightest up-and-coming players went goal crazy over the weekend, finding the net a remarkable 27 times in just five games as the National Youth League got underway in entertaining fashion.
The highest scorers of the opening round were Canterbury United Dragons and Waitakere United, who put six past Tasman United and Hawke’s Bay United respectively, although Tasman will be disappointed not to have taken something from their game after finding the net five times themselves.
The scorelines followed a more regular pattern elsewhere as Eastern Suburbs and Auckland City both recorded 2-1 wins over opposition from the capital in the Wellington Phoenix and Team Wellington while Hamilton Wanderers joined Suburbs in making a victorious debut with a 3-1 triumph over Southern United.
But the headline encounter was undoubtedly the South Island derby in Nelson, which will live long in the memory of those in attendance at Saxon Field. Callum Smith hit a hat-trick for the Dragons while Lyle Matthysen claimed a double and Aidan Barbour-Ryan was the other scorer.
Tasman will be wondering how they ended up on the losing side though after Tinashe Marowa earned a brace and Callan Elliot, Matt Tod-Smith and Alex Connor-McClean all also got off the mark.
“Every time we go forward with enough intensity we look like we’re going to score, and that’s great,” co-coach Andy Morris said.
“But that transition to defence, particularly in the first half, wasn’t where it needs to be. We can’t afford to get to halftime having conceded that many goals.”
There were also plenty of goals at Fred Taylor Park in Whenuapai, although they all went to the same team on this occasion. The Waitakere United youngsters set the tone for what would become a very memorable day for the club – the first team later claimed its first Super City derby win over Auckland City in nearly three years – with a 6-0 defeat of Hawke’s Bay, who simply had no answer to the quality of the hosts’ attacking play.
Gilberto Souza led the way for the Red and Whites with a four-goal haul while Jordan Lamb and Boon Ozawa were also on target.
It was a good weekend all round for the Auckland-based sides with Eastern Suburbs and Auckland City also claiming three points, both requiring last-gasp goals to get across the line.
In their first appearance in the competition, Suburbs fell behind at home to the Wellington Phoenix – whose line-up consists of players from the A-League club’s U-17 academy – through a Max Mata strike but equalised via Dylan Morris before Rob Dymond became the hero with a late winner.
“This league is about developing players but the kids also need to learn that winning is important,” said Suburbs coach Hoani Edwards.
“So we’re really pleased that we got the points and there were some strong performances from the boys. There were a little bit of nerves in the first half but now we’re underway and it gives us a chance to carry on and do well in the league.”
Antonio Bonkovich performed the same role as Dymond in Auckland City’s trip to defending champions Team Wellington after Aaron McDonald had cancelled out Jack Anderson’s second-half opener for the visitors.
“I’m pleased with the performance and it was a sign of all the work the players have done in pre-season,” said Auckland coach Andy Peat.
“It also shows you the calibre of the competition because Team Wellington are a strong opponent with a very good style of play. We need to sharpen up over the next few weeks but we’ll look to keep growing as a team as the season progresses.”
Like Tasman and Suburbs, Hamilton Wanderers were taking to the field for the first time in the National Youth League and proved they will be a threat by carving out a deserved win in Dunedin. Liam Hayes was the fifth player to score more than one goal over the weekend’s action with his double while Lachlan McIsaac got Wanderers’ other goal before Anton Fitzgerald claimed a late consolation for Southern United.
The National Youth League takes a break this weekend but returns with a full round from October 29 to 30, for more information and to view the full fixtures and standings please click here
National Youth League Round One
Tasman United 5 (Tinashe Marowa (2) 13’, 41’, Callan Elliot 29’, Matt Tod-Smith 35’, Alex Connor-McClean 67’)
Canterbury United Dragons 6 (Lyle Matthysen (2) 5’, 33’, Callum Smith (3) 16’, 40’, 62’, Aidan Barbour-Ryan 24’)
Waitakere United 6 (Gilberto Souza (4) 10’, 23’, 45’, 75’, Jordan Lamb 77’, Boon Ozawa 70’)
Hawke’s Bay United 0
Eastern Suburbs 2 (Dylan Morris 63’, Rob Dymond 87’)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Max Mata 35’)
Team Wellington 1 (Aaron McDonald 81’)
Auckland City 2 (Jack Anderson 71’, Antonio Bonkovich 89’)
Southern United 1 (Anton Fitzgerald 90’ + 1’)
Hamilton Wanderers 3 (Liam Hayes (2) 10’, 55’, Lachlan McIsaac 25’)