Wairarapa United players celebrate Tui Dugan’s winner against Marist. PHOTO/WENDY TURTON
The Tumu ITM Wairarapa United Women beat back a stiff challenge from Palmerston North Marist in a W-League away match on Saturday to retain their unblemished record with a 1-0 win.
The winning goal came after about 40 minutes when Tui Dugan found the back of the net after some crisp passing by the team.
It was a beautiful finish after midfielder Dugan and striker Anna McPhie exchanged passes.
United dominated the game but their fluency was disrupted by the physical, defensive approach of the home side.
Coach Paul Ifill said despite the home team’s aggressive attitude, he never felt threatened.
“Marist were very physical but did not put us under much pressure.
“We weren’t at our best, but it was an excellent result against a very good side. I was pleased with everyone. We showed real character.”
The win keeps United at the top of the league, three points clear of Wellington United Diamond.
Having already beaten the defending champions, Saturday’s win has United, who have scored 17 goals and conceded just three, well-placed to push for league honours.
“If you said we’d be five from five and only let in three goals and having played last year’s champions, I would take that any day,” Ifill said.
“I keep telling the girls, if you keep winning, you win the league.”
However, the canny coach knows the other teams will be targeting his team.
“Last year, we flew under the radar for the first few games. But this year, the other teams know what we can do, so will be gunning for us.”
The W-League takes a break for Queen’s Birthday Weekend when United host Victoria University in the Kate Sheppard knockout cup match.
Meanwhile, the Wairarapa United men’s struggles in the Central League continued with a 1-6 defeat to Lower Hutt City at Fraser Park, Lower Hutt.
The loss keeps United at the bottom of the Central League, one point behind Wellington United, who were humiliated 1-10 by Miramar Rangers.
The signs looked good for United early on when midfielder Jonty Roubos latched on to a stray pass to open the scoring after 15 minutes.
United continued to defend well and created a few chances. It looked like they would go into halftime with a deserved lead.
That was until the wind caught a cross and curled the ball into the net for a 1-1 scoreline.
The second half started badly for United, with Lower Hutt capitalising on some poor play to open up a 3-1 lead.
United continued to push forward looking for a second goal to give themselves a chance of picking up points and that opened the door for Lower Hutt to score three late goals and come away with a flattering win.
“It was an uphill battle when we went 3-1 down. When fatigue set in with many of the boys having played for their school in the morning, Lower Hutt made us pay,” coach Cory Chettleburgh said.
He singled out Roubos, left back Stanley Archibald and 15-year-old Riley Grover at right back as having outstanding games.
United will play the high-flying Olympic in a tough away game on Saturday.