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SUFC 2-2 Team Wellington

Regan Coldicott Southern United vs Team Wellington

It was a game to savour between Southern United and Team Wellington as spectators were treated to a 2-2 draw that might have ended up 6-6, there were so many goalscoring chances in yesterday's ASB Premiership football match.

Perfect conditions in the FB Stadium defied external weather, and the game produced some classy football with Wellington generally looking impressive, and Southern mounting effective counter attacks might have grabbed a win.

Never more so than when Jacob Schneider attacked up the right wing, and despite Wellington looking to have boxed him in - the big German curved a dipping shot past namesake keeper Jacob Spoonley in goal, and after only two minutes, Southern United was 1-nil ahead.

Coach Luiz Uehara had demanded a strong start, and his players obliged in spades.

But there was no relaxation for spectators as Wellington hit back almost immediately when international Solomon Islander striker Henry Fa'arodo spun and laced in a fifth minute athletic equaliser in United's crowded penalty area.

Wellington's pedigree showed as Colin Murphy masterminded elaborate passing moves from midfield and coach Matt Calcott's side switched play around probing for openings, requiring United defenders to cover vast tracts of the pitch, and bravely launch some last ditch tackles.

Keeper Tom Batty inspired confidence with safe hands, and centreback Matt Joy both organised and led his defence with passion.

In contrast to Wellingtons patient probing attacks, Southern showed incisive pace that had Regan Coldicott racing clear to 'score' but was denied by a linesmans flag.

Then Andrew Ridden broke through a tackle with the ball and accelerated clear from halfway. Spotting keeper Spoonley off his line, the big midfielder opted for a long range flighted shot - that took forever -  but with spectators and Spoonley holding their breath, the ball flew narrowly over Wellington's crossbar.

Ajay Cunningham tested the Wellington defence with a similar flighted freekick that was headed clear, and centreback Joy pounded in a strong shot that was blocked.

Unfortunately, that was Joy's last involvement as he was hurt in a goalmouth melee, and limped off to be replaced by Sam Mepham who went on to have an effective game.

Former Otago player Joel Stevens threatened with some pacey runs, Charlie Henry launched attacks across the field, and Jamie De Abreu, and Murphy prompted moves that threatened to unbalance the local defence.

In reply Southern's Coldicott turned provider with an accurate cross that Cam Attwood headed high, and in a day for attacking defenders Cam Higgins also went close.

Keeper Batty made a fine double save from Stevens, but stood no chance as the former Green Island play drilled in a 60th minute goal to give Wellington a 2-1 lead.

Heads slumped in dismay, but showing terrific spirit the team fought back within minutes and from a Ridden pass, Coldicott rode a fierce tackle, then used his pace to explode goalwards and slide the 63rd minute equaliser past Spoonley.

Wellington then probably went on to play its most sustained attacking football against tired Southern legs, yet even under the cosh, coach Uehara's side continued to break out of defence and chase the win.

Coldicott again showed his pace and class to feed Southern's dynamic midfielder Morgan Day, who set up Henry Flood for a ripper of a shot that might have won the match, but instead only frightened a couple of passing seagulls.

Delighted Uehara contrasted with Wellington coach Calcott, who described his side's effort as ' laboured' with too many opportunities missed.

The result moves United up level with WaiBOP on seven competition points,

and looking forward to next week's match against the old enemy Canterbury in Christchurch on Sunday.

At Tahuna park, Southern United's Youth side beat Manawatu 2-1 in squallid wintry conditions, with a super opening goal by Lewis Jackson, and the second half winner - a penalty - slotted by James McGarry.

Southern United Squad : 1-Tom BATTY (GK), 3-Nicholas HINDSON, 5-Matt JOY, 7-Sam MEPHAM, 7- Regan COLDICOTT, 8- Aajay CUNNINGHAM 10-Taylor McCORMACK, 11-Peter RAE, 12-Jefferson POTRICH (GK), 13-Logan WRIGHTWEBB, 15- Morgan Day, 18-Daniel MORRIS, 19-Campbell HIGGINS, 20-Jacob SCHNEIDER, 21-Andrew RIDDEN, 23-Campbell ATTWOOD.
Coach: Luiz UEHARA

Team Wellington squad: 1-Jacob SPOONLEY (GK), 4-Colin MURPHY, 5-Adam COWAN, 7-Henry FA'ARODO, 8-Cole PEVERLEY, 9-Cory CHETTLEBURGH, 10-Charlie HENRY, 11-Roy KAYARA, 12-Cameron LINDSAY, 14-James MUSA, 15-Sam MASON-SMITH, 17-Jamie DE ABREU, 18-Tom DOYLE, 19-Tobias BERTSCH, 20-Clayton LEWIS, 21-Justin GULLEY, 22-Hamish WATSON, 23-Joel STEVENS, 24-Andrew BLAKE, 25-Daniel CLARKE (GK), 26-Tamupiwa DIMAIRO. Coach : Matt Calcott

Text and images: Rab Smith