Southern fall in heartbreaking fashion
By Markus Fjørtoft
Southern took the lead through Coughlan, but an own goal and deflection proved fatal
Sunday 13 January, 2019
ISPS Handa Premiership – Upsets shake up play-off push
On a hot and humid day in Auckland, Southern looked to upset reigning champions Auckland City and put an end to their perfect record this season. Southern had come off a tough 6-1 loss to Eastern Suburbs, and looked to bounce back in style.
An upset appeared on the cards at the home of the defending champions as Southern United took the lead over Auckland City, Irish striker Garbhan Coughlan putting them 1-0 up at the break, following a great bit of work from Abdulla Al-Kalisy. Al-Kalisy used his speed and technique to get past the Auckland City defender on the left hand side and deliver a well hit ball to Coughlan who finished decisively with his left foot. The goal came after both Coughlan and Al-Kalisy had a couple of good efforts on goal that forced the Auckland City goalkeeper to make 2-3 good saves. While Auckland held the majority of possession, and proved dangerous on a few occasions, Southern executed their game plan well and proved hard to break down.
Yet, by mid-way through the second half Auckland found themselves 2-1 up as an own goal brought the scores level before a heavily-deflected free kick from Fabrizio Tavano supplied a winner for the Navy Blues, who have now remarkably recorded ten straight victories. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the away side, who had a golden opportunity to add to their lead when Ben Deeley connected superbly off a cross from the right-hand side, only for the goalkeeper to pull off a great save.
Southern will be back in action on Saturday as they take on Hamilton Wanderers, in what will be the start of a string of home games and a chance for the team to make strides up the league table.
Gameweek 12 Recap
Leaders Auckland City, second-placed Eastern Suburbs and in-form Canterbury United all notched victories but the wins of Waitakere United and Tasman United were far more of a surprise, the struggling pair beating Team Wellington and Hamilton Wanderers respectively.
Both were very much upsets but it was Wellington’s first home loss of the season that will claim most of the headlines as Waitakere had won only twice so far while the hosts had not been defeated since the opening weekend in mid-October.
Waitakere appeared to catch title-chasing Wellington off guard in the opening moments, racing into a two-goal lead with the clock yet to tick past 25 minutes. Sam Burfoot was picked out by Andrew Abba to get the scoring underway in just the 10th minute before youngster Jake Mechell struck his side’s second soon after, getting a touch to a free kick to beat Wellington goalkeeper Scott Basalaj.
Wellington then required a stirring comeback to preserve their lengthy unbeaten run but had to wait until deep into stoppage time to finally reply, Eric Molloy finding the net for what proved no more than a consolation. Waitakere were indebted to a heroic display by goalkeeper Nick Draper as Wellington turned the screw in the second half but couldn’t prevent themselves dropping to fourth on the ladder.
“We had a really slow start and that allowed Waitakere to gain confidence,” admitted Wellington coach Jose Figueira.
“They deservedly took the lead and, after that, we managed to get back on top and create a few dangerous opportunities. They then went and got their second but we were all pretty calm at half-time and we were clear to the players on what they needed to do,” he added.
“We were chasing the game and their goalkeeper and the woodwork have had an inspired day. But that’s football and we have to dust ourselves off to make sure we finish in the top four.”
Waitakere counterpart Chris Milicich was delighted with the efforts of his charges and felt the performance had been coming for a while.
“We’ve actually been doing well, we were 3-0 up against Hamilton and got rundown but today I felt we’d learned our lesson,” he said.
“We were very young, we had eight U-20 players on the pitch today and they stood up and went toe-to-toe. At the end of the day we’ve had to scramble but I was really proud of their attitude and willingness to do the work. I thought we deserved the win.”
Milicich also had special words of praise for the showing of his outstanding custodian.
“Nick is an absolute quality goalkeeper and has been a pro for a long time in the UK. In my opinion, he’s the best goalkeeper in the league and he played superbly well today but he’s done that all year.”
Wellington’s slip up opened the door for Hamilton and Canterbury to take some significant strides towards the play-offs but only the latter was able to do so, climbing to third with an action-packed 5-2 win over Hawke’s Bay United in Christchurch. Captain Gary Ogilvie led the way with a double while Stephen Hoyle, Maksym Kowal and George King also got on the scoresheet. The Bay replied through a Cory Chettleburgh long-range stunner and a late strike from Ben Lack.
Hamilton couldn’t match Canterbury’s three points in hosting Tasman, who had previously won just one match and were only being kept off bottom spot by the Wellington Phoenix Reserves. A brace from Ahmed Othman and a penalty to Ryan Worrall gave them their second victory but Wanderers, for whom Adam Luque was sent off late on, made a game of it through Tommy Semmy and Derek Tieku before falling 3-2.
Despite that impressive run, Eastern Suburbs are snapping at their heels – albeit having played one game more – after sweeping the Phoenix aside 4-0 in the capital in the only match to be played on Saturday. Callum McCowatt did most of the damage with a hat-trick while another hugely promising youth international, Elijah Just, also struck.
ISPS Handa Premiership Match Week 12
Wellington Phoenix Reserves 0
Eastern Suburbs 4 (Callum McCowatt 9’, 63’, 66’, Elijah Just 13’)
Hamilton Wanderers 2 (Tommy Semmy 40’, Derek Tieku 47’)
Tasman United 3 (Ryan Worrall pen 13’, Ahmed Othman 26’, 71’)
Auckland City 2 (Own goal 58’, Fabrizio Tavano 65’)
Southern United 1 (Garbhan Coughlan 39’)
Canterbury United Dragons 5 (Stephen Hoyle 3’, Gary Ogilvie pen 58’, 66’, Maksym Kowal 74’, George King 88’)
Hawke’s Bay United 2 (Cory Chettleburgh 28’, Ben Lack 86’)
Team Wellington 1 (Eric Molloy 90+4’)
Waitakere United 2 (Sam Burfoot 10’, Jake Mechell 24’)