Football’s underway for 2019
The Soccer Shop WaiBOP Premiership and The Soccer Shop WaiBOP Championship both kicked off on Saturday and, apart from a couple of 4-0 wins, most matches were reasonably tight affairs.
Waikato Unicol grabbed the headlines in the premiership, following a comfortable 4-0 home win over newly promoted Safer Team Te Puke United, while Otorohanga beat fellow promoted team Papamoa Reserves, to head the new championship table.
Flying Mullet Papamoa top the premiership table, however, after a 2-0 home win over Melville United on Saturday, and an earlier 3-3 draw against Boy’s College a fortnight ago, in which they surrendered a three goal lead, and sees them sit a point ahead of three other opening day victors.
Unicol were the most impressive team, result-wise, on opening day although they’ll believe they should have had a few more against a Te Puke side that struggled in their first top flight match.
A goal from Reuben Henderson and a Te Puke own goal had Unicol cruising at the break, then Ethan Martin and Jonathan Tobias doubled the lead in the second half. Unicol had the luxury of missing from the spot and also wasted a host of further chances in a match that featured six players making their first start for the team.
Otumoetai overcame a spirited challenge from Tauranga Boy’s College before easing to a 4-2 away victory. First half goals from Jordi Langton and Trey Stewart sandwiched a Liam Douglas strike, before Jordan Toy drew Boy’s College level ten minutes after the restart to offer his team the hope of an upset. But Langton hit his second inside the final ten minutes and victory was confirmed via substitute Miroslav Sindler only minutes later.
Promoted Ngaruawahia United saw off the challenge of Gisler Architects Te Awamutu to record an encouraging 2-1 win at Centennial Park. Goals from Liban Mire and Noor Mire inside the first twenty minutes got the Green Machine off to a flyer.
They managed to hold off the visitor’s challenge for most of the remainder of the match. Steffan Foulkes’s 88th minute reply gave Te Awamutu belated hope of taking something from the match, but Ngaruawahia held firm.
The other two premiership matches ended level. Champions Taupo were held scoreless at Comag Matamata Swifts in a match with the occasional flash-point but little to separate the two sides, despite Taupo having a one man advantage for more than half an hour. The visitors came closest to a goal, hitting the cross bar midway through the first half, before Matamata’s Bjorn Vossen was shown red after a tangle with Joe O’Donoghue on the hour mark.
Tauranga Blue Rovers looked headed for victory at West Hamilton thanks to goals from Mike Barton and Joaquin Reynoso, but the hosts hit back late to ensure the match finished at 2-2. Chris Gardiner halved the deficit with five minutes left then Alex Whitehead completed the comeback only two minutes later.
Otorohanga’s return to Federation level competition, after a long absence, couldn’t have gone much better. They cruised to a three goal half time lead at Flying Mullet Papamoa Reserves, before adding a further insurance goal after the break to record an encouraging 4-0 victory.
Nathanael Wrack led the individual honours, scoring the season’s first hat trick, while Trent Maguire’s first half strike added to the carnage.
Waikato Unicol’s Reserves defeated Cambridge 2-0 in the early game at Waikato University, while Hamilton Wanderers came out on the right side of a 3-2 arm wrestle against Tauranga City.
In the other games, Otumoetai’s Reserves won 2-1 at Tokoroa in the Waikato side’s first match following relegation from the premiership, while Taupo’s Reserves returned from their match at Waharoa Transport Matamata Reserves with a point following a 1-1 draw.
The match between Claudelands Rovers and Blue Rovers’ Reserves was postponed.