Wairarapa United striker Seule Soromon winds up for a shot past Rovers’ goalkeeper Joshua Hill. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN
By Jake Beleski
Wairarapa United overcame a “terrible” first half and torrential rain to beat Napier City Rovers 4-3 in a thrilling Central League match at Park Island in Napier yesterday afternoon.
Coach Phil Keinzley had said he wanted six points from their two matches over Easter weekend, and Friday’s 2-1 win over Western Suburbs followed by yesterday’s 4-3 triumph gave his side exactly that.
Keinzley described the first half as one of the worst his side had played, but a change of tactics in the second spell swung the momentum back in United’s favour.
Rovers headed to the halftime break with a 1-0 lead courtesy of a “soft” penalty, before United sprung into action in the second half.
“We were up against it and had to re-look at ourselves at halftime and adapt to the conditions,” Keinzley said.
“We tried to keep the ball off the ground in the second half and play in their territory.”
An exceptional final 30 minutes saw captain Sam Mason-Smith strike twice, along with goals to Paul Ifill and Alex Ridsdale.
Seule Soromon picked up two assists, while Cory Chettleburgh was named man of the match.
The win also mean Wairarapa United bring home the Bob Hullena Trophy, and will now defend it in all home matches.
Hullena was heavily involved in the Masterton Association Football Club and Masterton Golf Club before he died in 2011, aged 79.
Keinzley was thrilled to win the trophy, but adamant the team’s defence would need to improve moving forward, as they had let Rovers back into the match with soft goals.
“We’re still conceding far too many goals.
“We were up 2-1 and then 4-2 with only a few minutes left before they scored again near the end — that’s something we definitely have to improve.”
Despite the soft goals conceded by his team, Keinzley was happy with the team’s discipline in trying conditions.
“It was tough out there,” he said.
“It’s so easy to have players sent off in conditions like that, but we didn’t even have any yellow cards so our discipline was great.”
United’s win puts them in third place on the Central League ladder after with three wins from four matches, and they will now prepare to play second-placed Team Taranaki this Sunday in Masterton.
The scheduling of the match means they may be without three key players for the fixture, Keinzley said.
“Three of our guys could be unavailable due to international commitments, and I have no idea why the match has been scheduled for the Sunday.
“I hope it’s not because of club rugby, but it’s very frustrating when it’s self-inflicted.”
The three players in line to miss the match are Mason-Smith, Ridsdale and goalkeeper Coey Turipa.