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United go West, earn crucial point

Jared Cunniff scored his 15th and last goal for United in the 2-2 draw with Western Suburbs. PHOTOS/FILE

United draw and lose

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
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Western Suburbs 2
Wairarapa United 2

Trust House Wairarapa United put behind the disruption of last week’s sudden resignation of coach Phil Keinzley with a vital point away to Western Suburbs.

The draw keeps United in fourth place in the Central League, two points ahead of Wests in the race for a spot in the new National Championship.

Wairarapa United women’s coach Paul Ifill filled the player-coach’s role for the game and was pleased with the result, given the disrupted build-up.

“We had only one session to come up with a plan, and we decided to set up and try and catch them on the counterattack and we managed to do that,” he said.

“I thought we played some good stuff, but Wests would probably disagree because they think there’s only one way of playing football, but we went there to get a result and keep them chasing us, which was important really.”

As expected, Wests dominated possession and territory, and that advantage told in the 40th minute when Otto Ingham opened the scoring.

In-form striker Jared Cunniff responded for United early in the second half, with his 15th and last league goal for the club before he joins Wellington Olympic.

Mikey Faber restored West’s lead midway through the second half, only for Ifill to equalise after 70 minutes with a goal started by Bertie Fish.

Usually a defender Fish had been pushed into a midfield role, and stole the ball and set up a quick interchange of passes between midfielders Jonty Roubos and Cory Chettleburgh, with Ifill finishing the move with a powerful shot into the corner of the net.

Cunniff’s move to Olympic has opened up a spot for a striker, but Ifill said it won’t be easy to replace him, with clubs already qualified for the National Championship holding the upper hand.

“It’s very difficult because the teams like your Olympic and Miramar Rangers who look like they’ve made it already can recruit players as easy as they want, but for someone like us who are close but not in, it’s very difficult.

“I’ve made a few phone calls over the last couple of days, and I’m just waiting for things to happen, and I’m hopeful to get two in before the transfer window shuts on Wednesday, but to replace Jared is to be almost impossible.”

Ifill said United are also talking with potential coaches but said replacing Keinzley could be difficult, given the time of the season.

WOMEN

Waterside-Karori 3
Wairarapa United 2

Tumu ITM Wairarapa United have slipped to second place in the W-League after a disappointing loss to Waterside-Karori at a sodden Karori Park.

TJ Lyne-Lewis scored United’s first goal.

Jenna Barry gave the home side the advantage after five minutes, but United replied four minutes later, with Samoan international TJ Lyne-Lewis finding the back of the net.

A 43rd minute goal to Kayley Ward gave Waterside a deserved 2-1 halftime lead.

United drew level after 62 minutes through an Eve Barry home goal, only for Ward to restore the home side’s lead two minutes later.

United coach Paul Ifill said his team never really got in any kind of rhythm.

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve been really good at building up play, making 10, 15 or 20 passes at times before we looked to attack, and I thought we were a little bit too direct, and I can’t remember a time when we put five passes together,” he said.

“It didn’t help with the surface down there, it was very wet and very slippery and that didn’t help, because we are used to playing on turf, and we do move it a lot quicker at home.”

Ifill felt the team deserved a draw when the players thought they had scored but the assistant referee was behind the play and didn’t see that the ball had crossed the goal line.

“That would’ve meant that we would have stolen a point, and I thought we were value for a point at least.

“Waterside are a good side and I remember saying after we beat them in the first game that they’re going to beat a few sides, and they’ve won five in a row, so looking at their fixtures if they won all their games they could still win the league,” said Ifill.

Waterside are now joint third with Wellington United Diamonds on a congested W-League table, three points behind Palmerston North Marist, who lead on goal difference from United.

Ifill said United’s fate is in their own hands and if they win all four remaining games, they will win the league.

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