Cameron Lindsay, right, beats goalkeeper Nick Stanton for United’s second goal. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Wairarapa United 2
North Wellington 2

Trust House Wairarapa United’s chances of qualifying for the new national championship are gone after a draw at home against a determined North Wellington on Sunday.

United needed to beat North Wellington to keep their prospects of a top-four finish in the Central League alive, but the draw and Western Suburbs’ 6-0 win over Napier City Rovers delivered Wests fourth place and a spot in the 10-team national championship.

North Wellington had the better of the early running at Trust House Memorial Park but the home side took the lead against the run of play when player-coach Paul Ifill ran on to a brilliant through ball, beat the offside trap, and comfortably slotted the ball past goalkeeper Nick Stanton.

Cameron Lindsay doubled the lead seven minutes later when he beat Stanton at the near post to a cross from Jonty Roubos, who had made a solo run to the by-line.

The home side looked comfortably in control of the match, but that changed five minutes before the break when Gavin Hoy smashed the ball into the back of the net after some sloppy United defence inside the 18-yard box.

Paul Ifill, right, beats a North Wellington defender.

United continued to create the better opportunities in the second spell but let themselves down with poor options on attack.

They paid for their wastefulness in the 63rd minute when North Wellington pounced on a ball after a mix-up on defence for Daniel Mulholland to equalise.

United had their chances to net a winner, with Ifill going close from a tight angle, and Bertie Fisher had three clear headers from corners but couldn’t test the keeper.

“We had few chances, but our decision-making in the final third wasn’t good enough, and that’s all of us and we just fell a little bit short,” said Ifill.

“I thought we had a really good go but weren’t quite good enough on the day, and we made a few sloppy mistakes all over the pitch.

“I know some people will blame the defence, but we’ve got to put the ball in the net as well, and when we were up 2-0, we had chances to go 3-0 and the game is killed off, and then we let in a sloppy goal just before halftime, which changed things.”

Ifill’s aim now is to finish fifth in the Central League, and he said that would be a good return from the side, which was thrown into turmoil with the sudden resignation of coach Phil Keinzley in June, and the loss of four starting players – Stephen Sprowson to a US university, Hugo Delhommelle to Miramar Rangers, Jared Cunniff to Wellington Olympic, and Matt Tod-Smith to injury.

“If you take a step back and look at the bigger picture when Phil left, we were in a bit of panic mode, and we’ve only lost one game.

“We’ve probably drawn a few too many but losing four starters as well; I think if you put them in the team, two or three those four draws turn into wins.”

United’s final game is away to Lower Hutt City on August 28, and Ifill said it could be a good chance to experiment.

“A few players haven’t made their debuts yet so they might get in the squad, and there’s a few of us potentially retiring at the end of the season. But we’ll have a think about it and work out what we’re going to do.”



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