TJ Lyne-Lewis scored her fifth goal in two games. PHOTOS/FILE

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

WELLINGTON UNITED DIAMONDS 1
WAIRARAPA UNITED 2

Wins over W-League powerhouse Wellington United Diamonds are rare enough and even rarer at their Newtown Park fortress.

That makes Tumu ITM Wairarapa United’s 2-1 upset victory on Saturday over the three-time defending W-League champions something special to cherish.

United’s goals came from Kelsi Rutene in the first half, from a corner Kennedy Bryant struck with her weaker left foot, which was perfectly placed for Rutene to head into the top corner.

Samoan international TJ Lyne-Lewis doubled the lead in the second half, with a goal that coach Paul Ifill said came against the run of play.

“The halftime talk was to come out and start well because over the years I’ve been coaching, at the start of our second half we let in so many goals, and we just sort of sat in and didn’t too much, nor did they.

“Then we got a breakout, and TJ was played in and flicked it over the top of the defence with her head into her own path and then put it in nicely to go 2-0,” Ifill said.

Prolific goal-scorer Gemma Robertson pulled a goal back for Diamonds shortly afterwards, ensuring a nervy last 15 minutes.

The home side were given a great chance to equalise when awarded an indirect free kick inside the box, only for the United defence to hold strong.

“The players were magnificent, and everyone got in the box on the line, and they took a touch and whacked it and we cleared it off the line, and that galvanised us and we held on,” Ifill said.

“The atmosphere in the team was great. I look at someone like Emma [Megchelse], who I left out this week for tactical reasons, and she could’ve been sulky after she played well last week, but all she did was encourage from the bench for the whole 90 minutes, talking positively and just being so upbeat and she didn’t even get on the pitch.”

Ifill said the result was massive for the team’s confidence and their W-League prospects, but they must back it up against strugglers Seatoun at home on Saturday.

“If you draw or lose against them then all of sudden it was not worth going to Wellington and winning.

“We have Palmerston North Marist in two weeks, and they’ve already beaten us in preseason, so if we can beat Seatoun, we can go to Palmy full of confidence and hopefully it’s a top of the table clash.”

Late goal earns United valuable draw

WATERSIDE-KARORI 2
WAIRARAPA UNITED 2

Jared Cunniff scored both of Wairarapa United’s goals.

A late Jared Cunniff goal rescued a valuable point for Trust House Wairarapa United away to Waterside-Karori [Wharfies] on Saturday.

United coach Phil Keinzley had predicted that Wharfies would play their route one game with the defenders pumping long balls forward for their speedy strikers to run on to.

That proved correct in the first few minutes when Merlin Luke-Miny pounced on a defensive error to open the scoring for the home side.

United dominated the remainder of the first half and created several goal-scoring opportunities. The best fell to Paul Ifill who hit the crossbar with a powerful shot.

Jared Cunniff again highlighted the value of his signing, with the first of his two goals, and a 1-1 scoreline at the break.

The home side caught United napping again early in the second half, with Luke-Miny scoring his second from another United mistake.

The visitors were possibly unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Stephen Sprowson appeared to be taken down from behind in the box, when one-on-one with the goalkeeper after about 75 minutes.

However, United finally did get a deserved equaliser with five minutes to play, when Cunniff found the back of the net, bringing his goal tally to five in four Central League games for United.

In the end Keinzley was satisfied to come away with a draw from his bogey ground, where he has not won since 2007, the year United won promotion to the Central League.

“The combination of the huge field and the long grass meant that it was hard to play it along the ground, and you had to put a lot more weight on to the passes and it is certainly a home team advantage,” he said.

“We talked about it and they did nothing that surprised us, and they just played long balls all day. We made a couple of stupid errors in possession, and it was just us lacking concentration for the full 90 minutes.”

Keinzley was happy with the team’s determination to come back and secure a point, which could prove vital in the race for the top three in the Central League, and a place in the National Championship.

Fullback Riley Grover impressed in containing the dangerous Wharfies strikers, while Matt Tod-Smith stood out with another strong game in midfield.



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