Molly Woodhead had a solid game on defence. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

FOOTBALL

WAIRARAPA UNITED 1

PN MARIST 1

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

The Tumu ITM Wairarapa United’s chances of winning the W-League have just got a bit harder after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Palmerston North Marist.

United looked the more confident of the two teams at Memorial Park on Saturday.

They showed their intention to play attacking football from the start, whereas Marist set up defensively with the aim of beating the home side on the break.

That is exactly how their goal came. United turned over possession when hard on attack, and Marist moved the ball forward quickly to finish off a well-taken team goal.

The lead didn’t last long though. Two minutes later, the Marist goalkeeper took a player down in the box and Alexandra Gill stepped up to slot the equaliser from the penalty spot.

United continued to dominate possession and territory, but play broke down too often through poor passing or rushed decision-making around the opposition 18-yard box.

Centreback Amber Phillips caused many problems for the defence with her probing runs, but lacked support players at crucial times.

Despite their lack of possession, Marist continued to push forward whenever they had the opportunity, but United’s defence held strong.

Molly Woodhead and Dylen Kingi were particularly effective in snubbing out many attacks.

In the end, a lack of patience when on attack and the inability to really test the Marist goalkeeper cost United.

The result wasn’t what midfielder Dani Turton wanted in her last game before heading to take up a scholarship with Tiffin University, Ohio.

“They’re a good side and they’re physical, and we knew it was going to be a tough game. Everyone put in a good shift, I’m still proud of them.

“Halftime at 1-1, we knew we had to score, and we became a bit desperate, and I think that didn’t really work that well for us in the end.

“We had to at least try and score and we put everything into it.”

Turton said she was looking ahead to leaving for the US on Thursday and getting ready for a season with Tiffin.

“You hear the horrors of pre-season over there, so getting through that first.

“I’m going over there obviously for football, but I’m keen to study as well.

“A lot of the girls over there have just had the summer off, so I’m hoping going over after a season will be a bit of an advantage.”

The 1-1 draw has United drop to second place on the league ladder on goal difference to Wellington United Diamonds with two rounds to play.

Marist also kept their championship hopes alive and are only three points off the lead. Diamonds and Marist will clash in a vital game next Saturday.

United are away to Western Suburbs, who beat them in the first round.