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SUFC 2-1 Wanderers SC

Andrew Ridden, Photo by Rab Smith

Andrew Ridden broke the deadlock with a fine goal after 41 minutes to set up Southern United's first win of the season when it beat Wanderers SC 2-1 at North Harbour Stadium yesterday and vacated the competitions bottom slot.

Always a good time to score just before halftime, United trotted off with heads held high, after defending stoutly in that first half when Wanderers created many chances.

But a top match by goalkeeper Tom Batty blunted the young Wanderers side, and as the half progressed it was Southern United who looked the more dangerous.

Nevertheless, it was a serious halftime team talk from coach Luiz Uehara, urging his team to continue to play controlled football, yet with a mind on the Wanderers resilient form this season, in snatching late goals.

From his advanced midfield role, Ridden continued to threaten, and Henrique Viana became more involved as the game progressed.

Wanderers Andre De Jong, son of NZ striker Fred, made forays into the United box, and on the left wing Nick Sugden found space to deliver crosses.

But keeper Batty's form snuffed out several freekicks and corners by Wanderers, and in the 51st minute, the industrious Peter Rae wriggled free and delivered a perfect cross for Viana to head United into a 2-nil lead.

Any thought of coasting was dispelled however, when referee Matt Conger first punished Viana with a yellow card, then flashed a second yellow at Cam Attwood and United was down to ten men with over 20 minutes to go.

Coach Uehara made changes as he dragged Viana, and brought on Taylor McCormack, but Wanderers seized the moment to narrow the score almost immediately when Michael Den Heijer showed tight skill to swivel and shoot his team back in the game.

2-1 after 68 minutes, and with an extra man Wanderers pushed forward, as in a bid to tighten things up, Sam Mepham replaced Rae. 

Open play produced chances for both sides as Nick Hindson burst through in a 1v1 with keeper Zac Speedy, then it was Batty's turn as he saved from Scott Doney.

Referee Conger played four long minutes of extra time to frazzle the nerves of coaches Uehara and Darren Hart, but it was Mepham who drew down the curtain with blazing shot as full time was eventually whistled.

' This was another step along the way,' said coach Uehara. ' We have played better and lost, but as the game went on, our players showed fitness, skill and courage against a very good young side.'

' Best of all was the high level of concentration we maintained, and if we continue to achieve that... we will pick up more points.'