Paul Ifill (left) . . . first half goal scorer. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
By Gary Caffell
A scintillating first half paved the way for Wairarapa United’s 5-2 thrashing of Wellington United in their Central League men’s football match at Memorial Park, Masterton on Saturday.
Wairarapa United scored all five of their goals in an action-packed opening 45 minutes while conceding one with nothing impressing more than their intensity on both attack and defence.
Whenever they were in possession, they transferred the ball quickly through slick and accurate passing and often had the Wellington United defence back-pedalling at a great rate of knots.
With that sort of pressure, it was only a matter of time before the goals would come and come.
Skipper Sam Mason-Smith bagged three goals with Paul Ifill and Ermal Hajdari adding one each.
It was appropriate that this trio should be the scorers as they were a constant menace through a mix of pace, assertiveness and clever ball skills but they were not the only Wairarapa United players to shine.
Midfielder Cory Chettleburgh and Seule Soromon, playing in the unaccustomed role of defender, also made a huge impression with their ability to create space, either for themselves or for their supports.
There were though a couple of downsides to the Wairarapa United first half effort too.
The only goal that Wellington United scored was a somewhat tame affair which should have been avoided and then there was the red carding of Soromon just before the half-time break after he made what was deemed to be a dangerous tackle.
Playing one man short and conceding another goal soon after the resumption of play, Wairarapa United changed their tactics drastically for most of the second half.
Seldom did they look to push forward with any numbers with the focus being on protecting their lead and enhancing their goal differential on the points table at the same time, something which could come in handy as they look to chase down the only side in front of them with four league matches still to play, Western Suburbs.
The new approach did mean that Wairarapa United’s own defensive structure was regularly tested by a Wellington United side who had scored a 1-0 win over them in the first round and spearheaded by agile goalkeeper Coey Turipa and Daniel Allan, they were generally equal to the task.
The Wairarapa United women’s team picked up their first point in the Capital W-League when they fought out a 2-2 draw with Stop Out on Saturday.