Kennedy Bryant had a busy game in midfield for Wairarapa United. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
Wairarapa United 0 Palmerston North Marist 2
Any chance that Tumu ITM Wairarapa United had of winning the W-League probably disappeared with a disappointing 0-2 loss to Palmerston North Marist at Trust House Memorial Park on Saturday.
The loss leaves United nine points behind defending champions Wellington United Diamonds and Marist, giving them an almost impossible task to catch them.
The home side started the brighter and created early chances with centre back Amber Phillips’ heading just over the goal, and midfielder Kennedy Bryant going close.
Despite United’s dominance of possession and territory Marist took the lead against the run of play.
A quick counterattack down the right led to the ball being played into striker Aniela Jansen, who had too much space inside the 18-yard box and easily beat stranded goalkeeper Courtney Norman.
United continued to dominate play but Marist had the better chances, with one shot hitting the crossbar and a confident appeal for a penalty for handball denied.
United continued to pressure in the second half with Nina Kondo shooting straight at the goalkeeper, Sam Whyte firing just high, and Phillips just failing to connect with a cross with the goal open.
Marist sealed the victory with about 10 minutes to play when Kaitlyn Watts was left unmarked from a corner and sent a looping header into the back of the net.
United coach Paul Ifill said it was another frustrating day for his talented but underperforming team.
“When you’ve got an organised team like that and you go 1-0 down it’s difficult and I felt that we had the better chances in the game,” he said.
“I don’t think they tried to play too much after the goal, and I thought it was all us. When I spoke to the team afterwards, I said I can’t really be too disappointed with you. We played really well against a team who are top of the table.”
Without any chance of winning the league, Ifill was targeting a top three finish.
“We’re too good not to. I think this is the best squad we’ve had and we’re creating chances every game, but we need to do better as a team and put those opportunities away.”