Paul Ifill, player of the match for Wairarapa United. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Relief rather than joy was probably the main feeling in the Wairarapa United camp after their 4-1 win over Miramar Rangers in the Central League men’s football match at Memorial Park, Masterton, on Saturday.
After suffering hefty defeats to teams they would normally be expected to be beat, Havelock North and Lower Hutt City at their previous two league appearances, Wairarapa United were desperate to avoid a hat trick of losses.
And, to their credit, they did it in a manner which gives at least some hope of them battling their way back into title contention as the season progresses.
Both teams adopted a positive approach, which often saw the teams launching strong counter attacks deep inside their own territory, and while the purists would have found the number of turnovers too high for this level of football they did mean that the small crowd was kept thoroughly entertained.
The opening stanzas of the first half were all Wairarapa United, with a couple of prime scoring opportunities being created without success in the opening five minutes, but the more the half wore on the more Miramar Rangers came into the game, often testing the Wairarapa United defence with their pace on the flanks.
However, the closest they came to scoring was when a shot rocketed off the posts and back into play.
Wairarapa United, on the other hand, did have one goal to show for their own first half efforts, Paul Ifill providing the initial thrust before firing a cross which Seule Soromon headed into the back of the net.
In the second half, Wairarapa United gained a clear edge in both territory and possession and while there were odd occasions when Miramar Rangers looked dangerous the end result, which had the home team scoring three goals to their opponent’s one, was a fair reflection of the merits of the two sides over this period of play.
The mercurial Ifill was clearly Wairarapa United’s player of the match. Watching him jink and jive his way past a bevy of defenders just about every time he touched the ball reminded one of his glory days with the Wellington Phoenix and mostly his crosses were inch perfect in their execution.
Also making a decent impact for Wairarapa United on attack was youngster Callan Elliot, who showed just why he is the reckoning for national age group selection. He used his pace to telling effect in several searching runs and demonstrated his fitness by getting through a power of work on defence as well.
In midfield Wairarapa United was well served by the diminutive Noah Boyce, whose willingness to get involved in one-on-one confrontation belied his stature, while skipper Cameron Lindsay and Daniel Allan were both composed and disciplined at the back. They picked up several timely interceptions and Allan, especially, was solid in the air.
For goalkeeper Morris this was his first appearance for Wairarapa United since returning from a United States tour with the New Zealand secondary schools squad and he was impressive both with his coolness under pressure and his accurate distribution of possession.
In other CL matches played on Saturday Wellington United beat Wellington Olympic 4-0, Lower Hutt City beat Waterside-Karori 1-0 and Stop Out and Western Suburbs played out a scoreless draw.