Eastern Suburbs have secured a home semi-final in the ISPS Handa Premiership.
The Danny Hay-coached team defeated Tasman United 3-1 at Trafalgar Park in Nelson today in the penultimate Match Week of the competition. They are second on 37 points and they cannot be reached by other semi-finalists the Canterbury United Dragons (33 points) and Team Wellington (31 points).
Two-time ISPS Handa Premiership champions Team Wellington lost to defending champions Auckland City 2-1 at David Farrington Park, while the Dragons won well away from home against a 10-man Waitakere United (4-1) but it wasn’t enough to stay in touch for a home semi-final.
Suburbs’ win was set up by promising attacking midfielder Callum McCowatt. The 19-year-old, who won the Steve Sumner Medal for the Player of the ISPS Handa Premiership Final last year in Auckland City’s win, scored a double which proved the difference. All Whites midfielder Andre de Jong was also on the score-sheet as the Lily Whites secured a valuable three points.
McCowatt’s two goals move to him to 16 for the season and joint-level with Hawke’s Bay United’s Sam Mason Smith (who has left for Australia) on the Golden Boot Standings, while de Jong is alone in third on 15 goals.
The feature match of the round was Team Wellington hosting Auckland City in Wellington. The visitors came from behind to secure their 16th win of the season. Former All Whites midfielder Aaron Clapham put the home team ahead in the 10th minute when he made the most of an Auckland City mistake at the back to round the keeper and score.
But Team Wellington’s joy was short-lived as Maro Bonsu Maro scored four minutes later. The 22-year-old forward hit a good strike from the edge of the 18-yard box to get back on level terms.
The match was an even contest throughout before Bonsu Maro popped up in the 72nd minute to find the winner. The attacking forward, who has scored a number of important goals in Auckland City’s unbeaten run this season, was on hand to finish off a counter-attack to score the winner.
Team Wellington Head Coach Jose Figueira felt that it was an even contest where Auckland City’s clinical ability in front of goal proved the difference.
“We were excellent in the first half and created three really good opportunities that when you are playing Auckland you have to take,” he said. “In the second half they took their chance which popped up. We had a few golden opportunities which if we had taken we could have controlled the game a bit more. Second spot is now out of reach now but we need to fight to finish third, and try to make the final that way.”
Auckland City Head Coach Ramon Tribulietx described his team’s win as “a very good performance” as they continued their momentum in the ISPS Handa Premiership.
“We started very well but we conceded an unfortunate goal and sometimes that can hurt your team’s mentality but we came back well, scored the equaliser and played well in the second half to get the win.”
Meanwhile across town at Porirua Park, the Wellington Phoenix Reserves scored deep in injury time to secure a 3-2 win over Hamilton Wanderers. Their second victory of the season was set-up by the heroics of Ben Waine. The 17-year-old centre-forward scored in both the injury time of the first and second half to be the difference.
The Phoenix had gone into the break 2-0 up thanks to first half goals from Maximilian Batchelor and Waine. Wanderers, who went down to 10 men in the 70th minute, scored through Tommy Semmy and Martin Bueno but could not hold on to secure a point.
In the early game between Southern United and Hawke’s Bay United there were plenty of talking points in the 2-2 draw. The Brett Angell coached team went down to 10-men in the 14th minute when defensive midfielder Cameron Lindsay was shown a straight red card. Azariah Soromon scored from the spot to take the lead for the home team.
The experienced talisman Paul Ifill got Hawke’s Bay back into the match when he scored two minutes later in a frantic start. Irish forward Garbhan Coughlan, now fourth on the Golden Boot standings with 14, continued his rich goal scoring form to take the lead for the Southerners, but Frenchman Maxime Oliveri scored right before the break in the final scoring act of the game.
With a man advantage, Southern dominated for most of the match but could not convert their chances and had to settle for a point.
In the final game of Match Week 20, Canterbury leapfrogged Team Wellington into third place when they defeated Waitakere United 4-1 at Trusts Arena in Auckland.
The hosts began the match in perfect fashion when Ollie Basset hit a sharp strike that escaped the hands of Canterbury goalkeeper Connor Tracey in the sixth minute.
But the game changed in the 26th minute when Waitakere defender Matt Wood was shown a red card and the Dragons were awarded a penalty which Adam Thurston converted two minutes later.
From that point on it was one-sided traffic with two more quick goals before the break to Thurston and Tom Schwarz which saw the Dragons jump out to a 3-1 lead.
The Willie Gerdsen coached team finished the job in the second half with another goal to Maksym Kowal. They have a local derby to finish their season – away to Tasman United – as they look to finish third and avoid a trip to Kiwitea Street to face the unbeaten Auckland City.
ISPS Handa Premiership Match Week 20 Results
Southern United 2 (Azariah Soromon 14’, Garbhan Coughlan 36’)Hawke’s Bay United 2 (Paul Ifill 16’, Maxime Oliveri 44’)HT: 2-2
Wellington Phoenix Reserves 3 (Maximilian Batchelor 30’, Ben Waine 45+5’, 90+4’)Hamilton Wanderers 2 (Tommy Semmy 68’, Martin Bueno 88’)HT: 2-0
Tasman United 1 (Ryan Worrall 52’)Eastern Suburbs 3 (Callum McCowatt 45’ 88’, Andre De Jong 72’)HT: 0-1
Team Wellington 1 (Aaron Clapham 10’)Auckland City 2 (Maro Bonsu Maro 14’ 72’)HT: 1-1
Waitakere United (Ollie Basset 6’)Canterbury United Dragons (Adam Thurston 28’, 38’, Tom Schwarz 43’, Maksym Kowal 60’)HT: 1-3
For the ISPS Handa Premiership table click hereArticle added: Sunday 10 March 2019
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