Suburbs march on while Wanderers fall

Micah Lea'alafa celebrates scoring with his Auckland City team mates (Photosport)

A major threat to the recent dominance of Auckland City and Team Wellington is emerging in the ISPS Handa Premiership after Eastern Suburbs continued their perfect start to the season today while another side to have begun well suffered their first setback as Hamilton Wanderers fell to a defeat.

On a weekend in which the history of the competition was celebrated through New Zealand Football’s Heritage Week initiative, it seems fitting that one of the oldest clubs in the league would top the table, Suburbs ensuring that would be the case by recording their third successive victory.

Their victims this time were Canterbury United in Christchurch, where the visitors raced into an early two-goal lead within five minutes. There was a touch of fortune about both goals, the first coming when a clearance struck the leg of Elijah Just and ballooned over goalkeeper Conor Tracey before a second arrived moments later in similar circumstances, a low cross being turned in for an own goal.

Andre de Jong then came back to haunt his old team with a third just past the half hour as Suburbs made the most of having a strong wind behind them. It was in Canterbury’s favour in the second spell but they were only able to muster one response, Seth Clark becoming the first player to score against Suburbs this season with a sharp turn and finish inside the area with just over 15 minutes remaining.

Wanderers couldn’t share the lead at the top of the table with Eastern Suburbs after a Benjamin Wade strike proved enough to get Southern United over the line in a game of few chances in Hamilton.

Auckland City did manage to keep pace with their cross-town rivals though after eventually seeing off a stubborn effort by the visiting Hawke’s Bay United, who kept the defending champions scoreless for nearly 70 minutes. Dylan Manickum finally broke the deadlock just moments after coming off the bench and Micah Lea’alafa added a second soon after but the Navy Blues then had to survive a late scare as Sam Mason-Smith made it 2-1 in stoppage time.

Hawke’s Bay were reduced to ten men for the final throes of the match after Maxime Oliveri picked up a second booking in the 81st minute.

In the capital, Team Wellington continued to recover from their opening day defeat to Auckland City with a third win on the trot, this time sweeping aside pointless Tasman United 2-0. The damage was done in the first half as goals from Hamish Watson and Jack-Henry Sinclair put Wellington into a commanding position they never relinquished in their first home game of the season.

In the only match to take place on Saturday, Waitakere United got off the mark in impressive fashion away to the Wellington Phoenix Reserves, who are now joined only by Tasman in searching for their first points.

Waitakere were three goals to the good by the half-time whistle at Westpac Stadium after Oliver Bassett, Alex Connor-McClean and Eder Franchini Pasten all found the net. The latter’s strike came from the penalty spot after Ronan Wynne was dismissed for a foul as the last defender and, now with only ten men on the park, the Phoenix had a massive mountain to climb in the second half.

But they showed good character to be the better side for much of it, even getting on the board when Calvin Harris curled home an outstanding free kick on 55 minutes. Waitakere stalwart Jake Butler replied with a stunning set piece of his own though before the fast-feet of Andrew Abba proved too hot for the ‘WeeNix’ to handle as he made it 5-1.

The ISPS Handa Premiership returns with another full round on the coming weekend, for the table and other information please click here

ISPS Handa Premiership Match Week Four Results

Wellington Phoenix Reserves 1 (Calvin Harris 55’)
Waitakere United 5 (Oliver Bassett 3’, Alex Connor-McClean 31’, Eder Franchini Pasten pen 44’, Jake Butler 70’, Andrew Abba 80’)
HT: 0-3

Auckland City 2 (Dylan Manickum 67’, Micah Lea’alafa 71’)
Hawke’s Bay United 1 (Sam Mason-Smith 90+1’)
HT: 0-0

Canterbury United 1 (Seth Clark 74’)
Eastern Suburbs 3 (Elijah Just 2’, own goal 5’, Andre de Jong 33’)
HT: 0-3

Team Wellington 2 (Hamish Watson 34’, Jack-Henry Sinclair 38’)
Tasman United 0
HT: 2-0

Hamilton Wanderers 0
Southern United 1 (Benjamin Wade 69’)
HT: 0-0

Article added: Sunday 04 November 2018


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