Seule Soromon, right, was constant threat to the Petone defence. PHOTO/JEFF BELL/PETONE FC

FOOTBALL

Wairarapa United 2
Petone 2

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Seule Soromon turned back the clock and scored a brilliant late goal to earn Wairarapa United a valuable 2-2 draw with Petone in a Central League match at Trust House Memorial Park on Sunday.

The former Vanuatu international may have lost a bit of pace, but he was a constant menace to the Petone defence from the moment he came on as a substitute in the 72nd minute.

After heading just wide and then narrowly missing with a shot, Soromon found the back of the net in the 90th minute when he back-heeled a brilliant cross from Jonty Roubos. The goal was the 35-year-old’s record 144th goal for United, dating back to 2008.

Coach Davor Tavich was full of praise for the veteran striker.

“He knows his way around the box. He’s got that physicality and aggression. He’s a senior footballer and you can see the difference between him and a young footballer coming through, who might be a bit tentative about it, but Seule doesn’t care. He doesn’t take any prisoners, he wants the ball, so he’s very difficult to play against,” he said.

Although Tavich was happy with earning one point from the game that could have gone either way, he was disappointed with another slow start, which saw Mike Pickering open the scoring for Petone after nine minutes.

“We have to stop teams from scoring and going ahead early in the game, and that would give us a good chance of getting a few more points,” he said.

“We just don’t seem to communicate well enough at the back, who’s picking up who and who’s closing the space, and we still don’t play as a unit defensively, so there’s still a lot of work to do on that side.”

“We gave them too much space and too much time, and although we had the bodies around them, they had enough space to score a goal.”

United responded well to the early setback and were rewarded after 26 minutes when Roubos made a surging run into the box and back-heeled the ball for right wingback Ben Watson to plant the ball into the back of the net.

Sam Pickering, given too much space, restored Petone’s lead five minutes later.

United had the better of the second spell and created several excellent chances.

Midfielder Hugo Delhommelle was a constant threat with his pinpoint passing, and his dead-ball delivery, especially from corners, only needed a header to connect to threaten the goal.

Roubos, left wingback Liam Heard, and fullback Conor Turton also impressed with some strong runs that created attacking chances, only for the final pass to go astray or the shot to be off-target or saved.

After Soromon’s wonder strike, the teams had opportunities to secure all three points in stoppage time, but the defences held firm, and the points were shared

“It could have been three, it could have been none, but at the end of the day, I’ll take a point,” Tavich said.

“It was entertaining, and we played decent enough football for people to be happy with.”

Western Suburbs lead the Central League on 12 points, with Miramar Rangers and Napier City Rovers second equal on nine points. Wairarapa United are sixth on four points.