Wairarapa United’s goalscorer Paul Ifill makes progress against Napier City Rovers on Saturday. PHOTO/PETE NIKOLAISON
Wairarapa United moved off the bottom of the Central League with a gutsy 1-1 draw with league leaders Napier City Rovers at Memorial Park on Saturday.
United started the game strongly and more than held their own against a team that had embarrassed them 9-0 in April.
Veteran striker Seule Soromon thought he had opened the scoring for the home side after 25 minutes, only for the goal to be disallowed for offside, although the ball appeared to come off a defender.
Rovers would have gone into the break happiest after Japanese midfielder Sho Goto found the back of the net in the dying minutes of the half.
In past matches, that would’ve been the signal for a United collapse, but the young home team came out firing.
They were rewarded for their endeavours after about 60 minutes. Connor Turton ran on to a pass from Jonty Roubous, and put in a superb cross, which rebounded off the goalkeeper to the feet of Paul Ifill, who finished the well-deserved equaliser.
United thought they had taken the lead not long after when Soromon again beat the goalkeeper, only for the goal to be disallowed, again for offside, and again when it appeared the ball was deflected off a defender.
Goal scorer Ifill said both teams had chances to win the match, but in the end the draw was a fair result.
Ifill said everybody played well and it was difficult to single out any individuals, although he said Alex Britten had an outstanding game in goal having had a point to prove after being released by Napier City Rovers recently.
The draw lifts United to equal with Wellington United on two points, but with a significantly superior goal difference of minus 47, compared to Wellington’s minus 75. The two teams will meet in a potential relegation decider on July 20.
It was a good day for Ifill, who earlier coached the Tumu ITM Wairarapa United Women’s team to an 8-2 thumping of Petone in the W-League at Memorial Park.
Captain Ana McPhie, veteran striker Meisha Pyke [previously Boone], and Tui Dugan scored two goals each, while fullback Molly Woodhead and 15-year-old Nina Kondo also found the back of the net.
United controlled play for much of the first half, scoring four goals but conceding two.
The home side dominated the second stanza, in what Ifill described as a good all-round team effort and a good build up for their Kate Sheppard Cup knockout match against Wellington United Diamonds next Saturday.
The victory has United keep their three-point lead in the championship over Palmerston North Marist, who beat Seatoun 5-0. Diamonds slipped to third with a shock 3-3 draw with Waterside-Karori.