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Stunning win makes United table toppers

Callan Elliot, left, looks to outpace a Taranaki defender. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

By Gary Caffell

Wairarapa United rocketed to a clear lead on the Central League men’s football table after their 5-1 thumping of Taranaki at Memorial Park, Masterton yesterday.

Taranaki went into the game in equal first place with Stop Out on 10pts and an impressive defensive record which had seen them concede just the two goals in their opening four games but all that counted for nothing against a Wairarapa United team which completely outclassed them in every facet of play.

Now sitting on 12pts after four wins, Wairarapa United had yesterday’s result pretty well done and dusted by halftime.

At that stage they led 3-0 and it wasn’t only the size of their advantage which was impressive but the manner in which they achieved it.

With slick passing, and superb support play, both on and off the ball, they constantly opened up the Taranaki defence and while the three goals scored, two by Seule Soromon and one by Sam Mason-Smith, were brilliantly executed they hardly did justice to the dominance of the home side.

Indeed there must have been at least six other shots which went over the bar in perhaps the most entertaining 45 minutes of football seen to date on the Memorial Park turf.

It was always going to be a big ask for Wairarapa United to maintain that sort of effort in the second half and they didn’t, their passing lacking the same accuracy and Taranaki being able to launch some dangerous attacks from turnover ball as a consequence.

At the same time, however, Wairarapa United striker Paul Ifill did manage to score what is sure to be a front runner for any goal of the season award, blasting a ball from near halfway over the top of the Taranaki keeper and into the back of the net.

And there was another beauty almost on fulltime when the home team launched an attack from deep in their own territory and Alex Ridsdale’s strike did full justice to the speed and flair of the build up.

Taranaki too did score late in the game through Josh Smith, but the bird had well and truly flown by then.

His ability to constantly create room for himself through clever ball skills, coupled with that stunner of a goal, made Ifill the standout player for Wairarapa United but there were many others who shone as well.

For instance Cory Chettleburgh and Callan Elliot were veritable workaholics on attack and defence, youngster Liam Heard further enhanced his reputation with his composure in tight defensive situations, and Soromon and Mason-Smith were quick to seize any opportunity to torment the Taranaki defenders.

And when Jeshal Kumar came off the bench early in the second half he made the sort of impression which will see him pressing hard for a starting spot as the season progresses.

It was another tough day at the office for the Wairarapa United women’s team on Saturday, beaten 8-0 by Central League front runners Wellington United Diamonds.

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