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United in danger

Paul Ifill [on ball] gave Wairarapa United the early lead. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

Tavich: Team’s inconsistency baffles


Wairarapa United 1
Stop Out 3

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Wairarapa United coach Davor Tavich was lost for words after the team suffered a disappointing 1-3 loss to Stop Out at Trust House Memorial Park on Sunday and slipped into the relegation position in the Central League.

United went into the game equal on points with Stop Out but were made to look ordinary after a promising start.

“I really don’t know what to say. We can play some good football, but we can mess it up big time quite easily as we did on Sunday, and we just made them look good,” Tavich said.

“It just seems as if we can’t be desperate against the teams that are around us fighting for survival, and we just don’t seem to able to get that passion, commitment, and aggression that we show against the teams that are above us, and it’s a mystery to me.”

United started brightly and looked the better team, with Rathkeale student Jonty Roubos causing problems for the defence with his pace on the flanks, and veteran playmaker Paul Ifill always a threat in the attacking third.

The early pressure paid off when Ifill, given too much space and time in the box, easily beat the goalkeeper to give the home side a deserved lead after 24 minutes.

Midfielder Riley Grover went close to doubling the lead five minutes later when his fierce shot from 20 metres was tipped over by the goalkeeper.

Wai United midfielder Hugo Delhommelle clears with a header against Stop Out on Sunday.

The complexion of the game changed three minutes later when Stop Out debutant Ta Eh Doe scrambled in a goal to equalise. From then, the visitors took control as United went into their shells.

Stop Out had a great chance to take the lead with a penalty after a clumsy challenge, but goalkeeper Alex Britton was up to challenge, and dived to his left to make an outstanding save.

Tavich thought that might have been the spark his team needed.

“It was a great save, and I thought that would be a turning point for us and we’d get a little bit of energy from that. But two minutes later, they scored the easiest header you can ever score by the shortest guy on the field.”

That goal was created by Doe, who persisted with some trickery down the right touchline and eventually crossed to Ryan Kelly, whose loopy header left Britton stranded.

Whereas the first half was open and free-flowing the second 45 minutes became more of a dogfight, with Stop Out pressing high and shutting down the space for United’s midfield and attackers.

United could feel aggrieved they weren’t awarded a penalty when the ball clearly struck a raised arm of Stop Out defender in the box, which resulted in United midfielder Cory Chettleburgh being yellow-carded for dissent.

Despite struggling to get composure in their game, and giving away too much ball in midfield, United did create chances.

Substitute Josh Rudland pushed his shot narrowly wide, while others had chances but were reluctant to shoot from outside the box when the shot was on.

That hesitancy eventually led to a quick counterattack and Lewis Jackson extended Stop Out’s lead to two goals with 18 minutes to play.

Any slight prospect of a United comeback ended when Chettleburgh was red-carded for an alleged punch to the face of Stop Out defender Jordan Martens after reacting to being held after a tackle.

In a confusing piece of officiating the referee allowed play to continue for at least two minutes until he suddenly whistled a stop to play and consulted with the assistant referee before sending Chettleburgh off.

Tavich said the inconsistency of the team has him baffled.

“Next week we’ve got Olympic, and we’ve just got to go for it. We’ve got eight games, and there’s no giving up. There are 24 points to play for.”

As well as Chettleburgh, who is likely to face an extended spell on the sidelines given his poor disciplinary record, United will be without Grover for up to three weeks after he suffered a concussion in Sunday’s game.

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