Tui Dugan scored for the third successive game. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

W-League
Tumu ITM Wairarapa United 1 North Wellington 1

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Squandered chances came back to haunt Tumu ITM Wairarapa United as North Wellington scored a late equaliser for a surprise 1-1 draw in the W-League match at Trust House Memorial Park on Saturday.

A late red card didn’t help United’s chances, but this was a game they should have put out of reach early on.

United withstood some early pressure from the visitors but once they found their rhythm dominated possession and territory.

New Zealand Under-17 international Nina Kondo, fellow teenager Tui Dugan and captain Meisha Boone controlled the midfield superbly and provided the frontline ample opportunities, only for the final pass to go astray, the shot on goal to be off target or to hit the framework.

Coach Paul Ifill said that it was a game they should’ve won.

“We probably had about 20 chances and even when we were down to 10 we still dominated, but the final pass and execution wasn’t there,” he said.

“I can’t fault the girls’ work ethic, it didn’t quite happen, we could have easily won by six or seven.”

United did finally break through in the dying minutes of the first half when striker Sam Whyte hit a firm cross which the goalkeeper could only parry to the feet of Dugan for an easy tap in and her third goal in three games.

United’s dominance continued in the second stanza, but again they were let down by poor execution of the final pass, a wayward shot, or a player being pulled up for offside. In one 10-minute period Ifill estimated they were whistled for seven offsides, most of those against Amber Phillips, who had a game she’d rather forget.

The lanky striker was booked for a solid tackle in the first half and was controversially shown a second yellow card for an innocuous challenge on the goalkeeper with about 20 minutes to play, a decision that Ifill found confusing.

“The ref said Amber kicked the goalkeeper, but it didn’t look like she had made any contact and none of the Norths players claimed anything.”

United’s lack of composure came back to bite them in the 81st minute when North Wellington made a rare foray into the United box and a square ball was neatly tucked into the net.

“I could sense it coming,” Ifill said. “I don’t think they’d even been in our box and a little bit of sloppy defending and they scored.”

Even down to 10 players United still had their chances for a late winner but it wasn’t to be, and they had to settle for a share of the points.

Meanwhile, Wairarapa United men beat Wellington Olympic 3-2 on Sunday afternoon, after trailing 0-2 at halftime. It was their first Central League win since July, 2018.