Meisha Boone for Wairarapa United up against Wellington United Diamonds in Masterton. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

FOOTBALL

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

A late equaliser gave the Wairarapa United women’s team a share of the spoils in a thrilling 3-all draw with Wellington United Diamonds at Memorial Park on Saturday.

Wairarapa United Coach Paul Ifill had spoken of the fact the unbeaten Diamonds team would have one hand on the trophy if they were to win, and it would be up to his team to stop that from happening.

It didn’t start positively for Wairarapa United, however, as the Diamonds went on the attack from the start and opened the scoring in the second minute from a corner kick.

The ball was not even touched by any player as it curled into the goal from a remarkable kick.

The game was a free-flowing match and both teams created chances to score.

Wairarapa United were the dominant team in the first 30 minutes, but it wasn’t until the 29th minute that they got on the scoreboard through captain Kelsi Rutene.

They went on the attack straight after scoring and were awarded a penalty for a hand ball, which Danielle Turton calmly put into the right corner of the net.

That was the final scoring act of the first half as both teams headed to the break knowing they were in with a great chance.

The momentum appeared to shift in the second spell as the Diamonds clicked into gear and ramped up the pressure on the Wairarapa United defence.

In the 56th minute the Diamonds equalised with a lob over the Wairarapa United keeper, and two minutes later a loose ball was hammered into the back of the net to give the Diamonds a 3-2 lead.

Wairarapa United knew they would need to go on all-out attack to secure anything from the match, but the Diamonds squad appeared up to the task as they repelled wave after wave of attack.

With fulltime approaching, Wairarapa United’s Amber Phillips made a perfectly-timed run to catch the Diamonds defence out, and successfully lobbed the ball over the approaching keeper to level the scores once more.

Wairarapa United pushed for a winner over a frantic final few minutes, but it wasn’t to be as the team had to share the points.

For Wairarapa United, Anna McPhie and Tui Dugan were in the thick of everything throughout the match, while defenders Gorgi van Lienen and Molly Woodhead performed well at the back.

Goalkeeper Courtney Norman also made some outstanding saves.

Meanwhile, in the Wairarapa United men’s Central League match against Stop Out, it was another late equaliser that prevented United from taking the three points in an impressive performance.

Hamish Watson and Brian Kaltack scored first half goals for United, but it was Stop Out’s Luke Grindlay who had the final say to tie the score at 2-all.

United coach Phil Keinzley said it was a much-improved display from his squad.

“We made a few changes and they worked well for us.

“Daniel Allan played his first match in midfield for us and he was our player of the match, and Cam Lindsay played as a defender and went really well too.”

Both United teams will now look forward to this weekend’s Kate Sheppard Cup and Chatham Cup knockout matches.