Papamoa prevail in five-goal thriller

It was derby-day delight for Papamoa on Saturday as they kept their title tilt intact with a thrilling 3-2 win over Tauranga Boys’ College.

In a feisty encounter that was switched to Southey Field to accommodate the AIMS Games at Gordon Spratt Reserve, a Campbell Higgins goal and a Logan Crawford double secured all three points for Duncan Lowry’s side.

In sunny conditions, the students snatched an early lead thanks to Lewis Reid, but Papamoa were soon on level terms when Dean Styles’ flick-on was met by club captain Higgins, who volleyed home the equaliser.   

Styles, who had only returned from a trip to the USA the night before the game, was one of four returning faces in Lowry’s squad alongside Campbell Attwood, Mitchell Hales and Strauss Boom, and it was the latter who played a pivotal part in Papamoa’s second.

Picking the ball up on the right, Boom delivered a slide-rule pass to Crawford and the in-form forward took a couple of touches before producing an explosive finish to nudge his team in front eight minutes before the break.

The end-to-end action intensified in the second-half, and Tauranga Boys’ College’s attractive style of play and evident determination was rewarded when Alfie Cole levelled the scores with an eye-catching strike

But despite the setback, Papamoa’s own strength of character shone through, and they snatched what turned out to be the winner when Crawford capitalised on some good work from Cole Peverley and rifled home from 30-yards to claim successive man-of-the-match awards. 

After catching his breath at the final whistle, Papamoa manager Lowry said: “There is often a perception that Tauranga Boys’ College is just a team of schoolboys, but as you saw today, they are a team of well-coached athletes, a real credit to the college and I have the highest respect for them.

“It was an all-action 90 minutes that could have gone either way, and both sets of players showed great respect towards each other – even if some on the sidelines didn’t.

“Tauranga Boys’ College have had a terrific season, and they’re a good example of what can be achieved with well-planned coaching structures.

“There is a huge gap at our club between junior and senior development, but Tauranga Boys’ College seem to have bridged that gap commendably.”

Elsewhere in the WaiBop Premiership, table-topping Taupo were made to work before eventually running out 4-2 winners against lowly Hamilton Wanderers, while Waikato Unicol won their second game in four days to move into second place with one remaining league game left to play.

Tantalisingly, their remaining game is against third-placed Papamoa at Gordon Spratt Reserve on Saturday, September 22 (2:45pm kick-off).

Papamoa FC (3-4-3): Harris Edlin; Phillip Fletcher, Campbell Attwood, Campbell Higgins (captain); Cole Peverley, Top Khamwanthong, Dean Styles, Elijah Welch; Strauss Boom, Andrew Cooper, Logan Crawford. Subs: Liam Molloy, Matthew De Bono, Alex Wilson, Fawwaz Ali, Mitchell Hales.

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