Wairarapa United goalkeeper Scott Morris can’t stop Napier’s first goal from a wicked deflection. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV
Soromon double denies Rovers
Wairarapa United 2
Napier City Rovers 2
A goalkeeping howler gifted Wairarapa United a valuable 2-2 Central League draw with Napier City Rovers at Trust House Memorial Park on Sunday.
Napier were leading 2-1 early in the second half when a defender passed the ball back to goalkeeper Kyle Baxter, whose ‘air kick’ missed the ball completely. United striker Seule Soromon promptly swooped on the loose ball, but still had a bit to do before he slotted it into the back of the net.
Veteran midfielder Paul Ifill was near Baxter as the comedy unfolded.
“That was a pearler because I was behind it and as he was going back to it. I could see where the ball was pitching, and I was thinking he can’t kick this properly as it was right under his feet,” Ifill said.
“I thought he’d slice it out my way and then when it went between his legs; I thought please fall to somebody and it was very nice that it fell to Seule, and we’ll take it.”
The equaliser was just reward for United, who had every right to feel hard done by with Napier’s two goals.
The first against the run of play after 21 minutes went to Joel Stevenson whose shot took a wicked deflection off a defender and looped over the head of stranded United goalkeeper Scott Morris.
The second was a controversial penalty to Englishman Liam Schofield after 37 minutes. Referee Chris Bennett pointed to the spot after a Napier attacker appeared to fall over without any contact from a defender who had attempted to play the ball.
United coach Davor Tavich said it was a dive and didn’t warrant a penalty.
“The players told me after the game that they had a chat to the referee and he said he hadn’t touched him, but it was the intent and he made the guy jump over him, which created the situation for the penalty,” he said.
“That was his reasoning, but between the linesman and the referee you think they would make the proper call.”
The two-goal deficit appeared to subdue United, but the home side got a boost shortly before the break when Soromon headed a pinpoint cross into the back of the net.
“The second goal was really deflating,” said Tavich. “It could have gone really bad for us, but the players stuck with it, and we scored a nice goal, and in the second half we just about turned it around.”
Both teams had opportunities to steal all three points, but poor execution meant the teams had to settle for one point apiece.
Former Vanuatu international Soromon was outstanding for United, and although he ran out of legs in the last quarter, he was a constant menace to the Napier defence.
Goalkeeper Morris was again a commanding figure for United at the back and pulled off two brilliant pinpoint saves.
United’s playing stocks could take another blow though with midfielders Cory Chettleburgh coming off with a groin strain and Noah Boyce suffering a knee injury.
Tavich was happy with the one point, which has moved United two points clear of Stop Out at the bottom of the table and a step further away from relegation.
“We have the quality and have the passion now, and as long as we keep doing our job it won’t be a problem,” he said.
A win away to Lower Hutt City on Saturday or at home to Waterside-Karori on October 10 would be enough for United to retain their place in the Central League.
To avoid relegation to the Capital Premier League, Stop Out must win at least one game and United lose both or draw only one game.