Papamoa gutted by WaiBOP league confusion
Papamoa Football Club members are shaking their heads at a perplexing turn of events which has left the club’s Loaded WaiBOP Premiership season, and hopes of snatching the title from the grasp of table-toppers Taupo, all but over.
The issues relate to a belatedly cancelled yellow card to key player Cole Peverley, which lead to him missing the team’s vital Saturday clash with Waikato Unicol, as well as the effects of the expulsion of the Hamilton Wanderers’ Federation team from the league for defaulting their engagement with Taupo – their third no-show of the season.
As the team battled to put the disruption behind them, dropping two vital points in a 1-1 draw with the Hamilton students did nothing to lighten the mood around the Gordon Spratt Reserve-based club.
The combined effect of the weekend’s events has left them five points behind Taupo with both clubs having two matches to play. Even though Papamoa will pick up three points this weekend as Tauranga Boys’ College have defaulted their scheduled match, they still need battling South Waikato club Tokoroa, with only two season wins to their name, to pull off a massive upset over the Lakesiders to keep their chances alive.
Papamoa and Taupo are scheduled to meet on October 6 in a potential final-day title decider – if that dramatic upset occurs this Saturday.
Widely acknowledged as Papamoa’s most influential player, Peverley’s absence was keenly felt by the team against Unicol. The former All White picked up a yellow card in the previous week’s feisty 3-2 win over Tauranga Boys’ College, which meant he was automatically suspended for the following match as it was his fifth booking for the season.
The sanction was then discovered to be an error, and rescinded by the referee. The news that Peverley was free to play after all did not filter through from the WaiBOP Federation to Papamoa management until late Friday night, too late for the player, who had taken his family away for a weekend break in the South Island.
It turned into a double whammy for the club, which was also hit hard by the federation’s decision to exclude Wanderers after they bailed on their match with Taupo.
The Hamilton club’s default, their third of the season, meant under WaiBOP’s regulations they were expelled from the league, with all their results, including goals for and against, wiped off the table.
The effect of that was to turn Papamoa’s healthy goal difference advantage over Taupo into a 10-goal deficit, meaning that, should they fetch up for the final showdown between the two sides on October 6 no more than three points adrift, they could take the title on goal difference.
Though WaiBOP says it were merely following the rules, the decision left a very sour taste in the mouth for Papamoa, which believes a heavy fine would have been more appropriate and had less effect on the league as a whole.
The twin setbacks for Papamoa follow hard on the heels of their exclusion from a potential playoff for promotion to the Northern Regional Football League should they win the WaiBOP title, as postponements through the season have meant the time has run out for the league winner to be decided.
Against the background of these events the team was understandably flat as Saturday’s encounter kicked off.
In the absence of goalkeeper Harris Edlin, Papamoa called on Ryan Foord to step up for his first game in weeks, still recovering from the nasty foot injury he has been carrying, and not fully-fit.
For 75 minutes Papamoa battled, despite the vocal encouragement from the coaching staff, against a well-drilled Unicol side who dominated the midfield and were rock solid in defence.
It was little surprise when the Hamilton students went ahead midway through the first half thanks to a Riku Soejima strike, and took that lead into the halftime break.
The damage could have been worse for the home side who failed to get a shot on target in the half, and had the heroics of Foord to thank for keeping them in the game with a string of top-class saves.
The second half started on a brighter note for Papamoa but they still couldn’t find a way past the diligent Unicol defence until they at last came to life in the final quarter.
Chances started to come and frontman Andy Cooper found himself receiving the ball at his feet, which paid off with less than five minutes remaining as he was able to put away a screamer to bring the scores level.
The team will now put their feet up for the weekend while hoping Tokoroa can do them a huge favour with a highly unlikely win over Taupo, and keep their final day showdown with the Lakesiders alive.