Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Oceania: Auckland City successfully defend O-League crown

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on May 13, 2012

O-League logoAuckland City are Oceania football champions for the fourth time following a single goal second leg victory over Tahitian side Tefana FC today which sealed a 3-1 aggregate win.

The New Zealand side were already defending the O-League trophy which they won last year and were made to work hard over the two legs by a Tefana team who were largely unfancied at the start of the tournament, especially after they lost their first Group A match 10-0 at the hands of Auckland’s compatriots Waitakere United.

Auckland City won the first leg 2-1 at home but the away goal for Tefana meant that the Tahitians maintained some hope of upsetting the odds to take the title in much the same way that Papua New Guineans Hekari United had done in 2010. Sadly for Tefana the dream faded away once Manel Exposito gave Auckland City a 1-0 lead just four minutes before the half-time break in the second leg, a score line which didn’t change and which secured the Kiwis a 3-1 aggregate triumph.

For Auckland City it is their fourth continental title in six years and puts them in the draw alongside 2012 CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey CF for the FIFA Club World Cup which will be played in Japan later this year.

Oceania: Kiwi top two set standard in O-League

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on November 22, 2011

Auckland City O-League champions 2011Whilst the UEFA Champions League continues to take centre stage in Europe as the competition nears the end of its group phase, the equivalent tournament in the Oceania region is two rounds into the 2011-12 O-League and, as usual, the two New Zealand representatives are setting the pace for all of the others to follow.

Defending champions Auckland City and their compatriots Waitakere United have won five of the last six tournaments between them since Australian clubs decided to move to the Asian Champions League set-up in 2006. The former team won their third title in last season’s competition by defeating Vanuatu champions Amicale FC 6-1 on aggregate. In this year’s tournament, following last weekend’s round of games, Auckland lead the Group B table with a full compliment of six points from two games and a two point gap separating them from Amicale FC who they must face in their next game on January 18th, a game moved to accommodate Auckland City’s participation in the oncoming FIFA Club World Cup in December. Matchday 2 saw Auckland defeat Papua New Guinea champions Hekari United with a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Manel Expósito and Emiliano Tade ensuring that the New Zealanders go into their forthcoming FIFA Club World Cup qualification match against the host Japanese champions, as yet undecided, in good spirits.

Waitakere United, two-time winners of the O-League competition, do have a much easier group and are huge favourites to progress from Group A as winners. In their opening game they saw off the weak challenge of French Polynesia outfit Tefana FC with a massive 10-0 scoreline, Fijian international Roy Krishna helping himself to five of his team’s ten goals. Waitakere’s game last weekend saw a more sober 4-0 victory over Fijian champions Ba with four different scorers – Jone Vesikula, Ross McKenzie, Chris Bale and Sean Lovemore – finding the back of the net for the Kiwis who are expected to stroll their way into this season’s two-legged final which take place in April/May 2012. Their next group game comes against New Caledonian side AS Mont-Dore on December 3rd and nothing less than three points will satisfy United who are desperate for another shot at the Oceania crown having failed to win any of the last three tournaments including the shock 4-2 aggregate defeat to Hekari United in the 2009-10 campaign.

New Zealand: Waitakere crowned champions again

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on April 11, 2011
Waitakere United

Waitakere United are the 2011 New Zealand champions

The ASB Premiership, New Zealand’s premier football tournament, has been won yet again by Waitakere United. The defending champions and regular season table-toppers defeated arch-rivals Auckland City by a 3-2 scoreline to secure the club’s third championship crown in four years.

Both finalists reached the showpiece match of the New Zealand football calendar by securing big aggregate wins in their semi-final matches. Waitakere United got the better of Canterbury United by 6-3 whilst Team Wellington were Auckland City’s victims going down to a 7-1 hammering. Auckland City, who hope to claim the Oceania Champions League title next weekend at home to Vanuatu champions Amicale FC, wanted to claim the national title before they indulged in continental affairs. However Waitakere, despite having lost a number of players through injury before the final, put paid to their rivals’ hopes.

Dakota Lewis bagged a brace for Waitakere United in the first half with a goal for Auckland’s Aaron Scott sandwiching them to ensure that the game finished with a 2-1 scoreline at the half-time break. Auckland would go on to restore parity in the second half thanks to a Manel Exposito goal just four minutes after the re-start but United would have the last laugh in stoppage time. Auckland defender James Pritchett was the unfortunate player to deflect the ball into his own net as Waitakere would go on to seal the deal in cruel fashion.

O-League: 2010-11 Season Preview

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on October 20, 2010
Hekari United

Hekari United are the defending champions

This weekend sees the beginning of a new campaign in Oceania’s elite football competition, the O-League. Having established itself as a regular feature of the football calendar since it was rebranded with a new format in 2007, the anticipation ahead of this tournament is growing mainly because of last season’s shock victory of Papua New Guinea’s PKR Hekari United FC. They beat Waitakere United 4-2 on aggregate in the 2009-10 final to put a halt to the domination from New Zealand clubs and, thus, qualify for the 2010 Club World Cup which takes place in Abu Dhabi for the second successive year in December. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks ahead to this year’s edition.

Last season’s surprise champions PKR Hekari United will be expecting perennial challengers Auckland City and Waitakere United to come back stronger in order to take the title from their grasp. The two Kiwi clubs have, once again, been drawn in the same group and will be fighting it out to reach another final. The eight teams in the competition have been drawn into two groups of four with the top team from each group going to next year’s two-legged final in April. Here is a quick guide to the eight teams:

GROUP A

HEKARI UNITED (Papua New Guinea)

Champions of their domestic league for the last four seasons, Hekari (formerly Souths) United made the most of their talents in order to claim a maiden O-League triumph last season having defeated Waitakere United. With new arrival Henry Fa’arodo United will be expected to score plenty of the goals again and the defending champions will hope to reach a second successive final seeing as they avoided the two New Zealand clubs in the draw.

KOLOALE FC (Solomon Islands)

National team striker Benjamin Totori has returned to his homeland following a five year stint at New Zealanders Waitakere United and he will hope that his goalscoring prowess can fire his team to a second O-League final. On the other side of the coin the loss of Henry Fa’arodo to Hekari United will be a blow to the side. The club reached the 2008-09 final in their first ever appearance in the competition but suffered at the hands of Auckland City by a comprehensive 9-4 aggregate scoreline and will hope to go one better this time around.

LAUTOKA FC (Fiji)

Lautoka FC have never reached the final of this tournament and would dearly like to become the third Fijian side to do so after their arch-rivals Ba FC reached the 2007 O-League final and Nadi FC reached the final in the tournament’s previous guise of the Oceania Clubs Championship in 1999. Both of their compatriots went on to lose their respective finals so Lautoka FC would be looking to make history should they make it all the way to the final in April.

AMICAL FC (Vanuatu)

At long last!! Tafea FC’s long reign as domestic champions is finally over (not that I’m biased against Tafea I hasten to add). After winning the Premia Divisen championship in 2010 Amical FC put an end to Tafea’s fifteen year reign at the helm and gave themselves the opportunity of playing O-League football for the first time. The club have also recruited Alick Maemae (many thanks to “Diego”, a Stoppage Time reader who informed me of this move as I had reported differently earlier) and have ambitions to make a mark on this tournament despite their inexperience.

GROUP B

WAITAKERE UNITED (New Zealand)

Last season’s defeated finalists and two-time winners of the competition in 2007 and 2008, Waitakere United are determined to reach the final of this tournament again but will have to do so without prolific striker Benjamin Totori who has gone back to the Solomon Islands. Nonetheless much of last season’s squad remains and, with a few adjustments throughout the season, player-manager Neil Emblem’s side are well-placed to make a fight on two fronts again this season.

AUCKLAND CITY (New Zealand)

Auckland City, another two-time champion having won the title in the 2006 and 2008-09 seasons, have big ambitions to get back to the top following a disappointing 2009-10 campaign. They lost out to arch-rivals Waitakere United in the group stages of this tournament last season and also saw their arch-rivals lift the domestic championship too. Now Auckland City will want to get their own back with a new coaching team of Aaron McFarland and Ramon Tribulietx plus the addition of All Whites player David Mulligan to an already large playing squad.

AS MAGENTA (New Caledonia)

AS Magenta has been a regular participant in the O-League thanks to their prolific run of success in their national championship in the last decade. With six titles to their name AS Magenta also came close to winning this competition in 2004-05 where they lost to Australians Sydney FC in the final. Will probably be fighting it out with AS Tefana to avoid the wooden spoon in Group B. 

AS TEFANA (French Polynesia)

Having won the Tahitian championship for only the second time in their history in 2010 AS Tefana will compete in the O-League for the first time and are not expected to challenge the New Zealand clubs for the top spot which would guarantee a place in the tournament final. At least they can gain some much needed experience of international competition and will want to reach a minimum of third place in the group.

Matchday 1 Fixtures

Group A: Hekari United v Amical FC

Koloale FC v Lautoka FC

Group B: Auckland City v AS Magenta

Waitakere United v AS Tefana

O-League: Hekari United create history for PNG football

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on May 2, 2010
Kema Jack

Kema Jack (left) is a football hero in Papua New Guinea after scoring three goals in the two-legged final against New Zealand champions Waitakere United

Football in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has been given a massive boost thanks to Hekari United’s 4-2 aggregate win over tournament favourites Waitakere United in the 2009-10 O-League final. Hekari United become the first club from outside Australia and New Zealand to claim the title and will become the first club from Papua New Guinea to play in the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi later this year. It is an astonishing feat for the club from Port Moresby and one which they’ll hope to take full advantage of both competitively and financially.

Hekari United won the first leg of the O-League final by three goals to nil a fortnight ago thanks to a brace from Kema Jack (pictured, left) and Solomon Islander Alick Maemae. After Waitakere United had sealed the New Zealand Football Championship last weekend the PNG side knew that they still had plenty of work to do over their more fancied opponents if they were to seal the title this Sunday.

Waitakere, who have won this competition twice before in 2007 and 2008, still harboured hopes of a fightback and these hopes were further confined after just three minutes when player-coach Neil Emblen got on the end of a Martin Bullock corner to give the New Zealanders an early second-leg, the aggregate arrears reduced to 3-1. Despite this early breakthrough the pivotal moment of the contest would come after the 35th minute of the match when Hekari United’s Alick Maemae was brought down in the box by Waitakere United goalkeeper Danny Robinson allowing Kema Jack to score his third goal of the final from the penalty spot. This gave Hekari United a 4-1 aggregate lead plus a crucial away goal meaning that the Auckland side needed to score four more without reply to win the trophy.

Sadly for Waitakere United their hopes of an O-League hat trick title had already significantly faded by the time they won a penalty kick of their own after 84 minutes. Brent Fisher converted from the spot to give Waitakere United a 2-1 win on the day but the aggregate score was 4-2 to the PNG side who held out against wave after wave of Waitakere United attacks throughout the second half. The final whistle went amid emotional scenes for the Papua New Guinea side who have now enjoyed success at the highest level of Oceania football since being established in 2003. They get the chance to play one level higher in the FIFA Club World Cup in December and the club will be dreaming of progressing far enough in the tournament to play either the European or South American champions. Nonetheless the financial guarantee of half a million American dollars for their participation in FIFA’s top club tournament will come as a welcome boost to the club who will use the money to further invest in the club’s future.

New Zealand: Waitakere United seal second title

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on April 24, 2010
Waitakere United

Waitakere United are New Zealand football champions for the second time

Waitakere United have won their second New Zealand Football Championship (NZFC) title after a 3-1 defeat of underdogs Canterbury United in Saturday’s final. Canterbury United had shocked everybody by knocking out defending champions Auckland City in the semi-finals and were facing a Waitakere side who, only last week, were heavily defeated in the first leg of the Oceania Champions League final. Waitakere, however, showed their strength to ensure that the NZFC title remains in the city of Auckland, which it has done since the league’s inception in 2004.

Waitakere United were the hosts of the sixth NZFC Grand Final due to their superior record in the regular season. Waitakere finished second in the table just two points behind minor premiers Auckland City. Canterbury United squeaked into the play-offs on the last day of the regular season pipping Otago United into fourth place thanks to a better goal difference. In the semi-finals both teams overcame tough ties with Waitakere United getting the better of Team Wellington on away goals whilst Canterbury United secured an unlikely 4-2 triumph over Auckland City. Canterbury’s only ever appearence in the NZFC final came in the 2005-06 season where they lost to Auckland City in a penalty shoot-out so the Dragons were hoping to go one better this time.

The chances of another shock were increased after just six minutes of the game when Tom Lancaster gave the visiting Canterbury side an early lead. Waitakere were on the back foot but the early goal had the effect of waking up the home side who equalised ten minutes before half-time thanks to prolific Soloman Islands striker Benjamin Totori. The turning point of the game occurred just three minutes later when Canterbury’s Paul Dirou was sent-off after a high challenge on Jason Rowely and, although the first half would finish all square, the home side would make full use of their numerical advantage in the second half. Allan Pearce, who would go on to win the Man of the Match award, gave Waitakere United the lead on 57 minutes shooting home from the edge of the box. The match was sealed seventeen minutes from time when Waitakere captain Jake Butler slipped through a lovely through ball to Benjamin Totori who rounded helpless keeper Tom Batty to score his second goal of the game and give the home side a healthy two goal lead which they saw out easily in the time remaining.

Waitakere United will represent New Zealand in the 2010-11 OFC Champions League (O-League) along with Auckland City who gained the reward for finishing minor premiers. Canterbury United can be proud of their efforts as they came so close to winning the title after having been the worst team in the league in the previous two seasons. For Waitakere United there isn’t much time to celebrate their domestic crown as they hope to overturn a three goal deficit at home to Papua New Guinea side Hekari United in the second leg of the 2009-10 O-League final next Saturday.

New Zealand: Waitakere and Canterbury reach Grand Final

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on April 11, 2010
New Zealand Football Trophy

Waitakere United will play Canterbury United on April 25th to decide the New Zealand Football Championship

New Zealand’s football championship (NZFC) Grand Final will see Waitakere United face-off against Canterbury United after the latter surprised the form guide on Sunday by defeating Minor Premiers Auckland City whilst Waitakere United scraped through on Saturday having been taken all the way by Team Wellington.

Waitakere United, who recently reached the final of Oceania’s Champions League (O-League), were just seconds away from a shock exit from the competition but some dramatic events turned the match in United’s favour. After Waitakere had lost the first leg 3-2 in Wellington their task was made more difficult after just ten minutes of the second leg, played at United’s Fred Taylor Park stadium, when Team Wellington’s Andy Barron struck a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area to increase his team’s aggregate lead. It wasn’t until the 70th minute of the game that Waitakere United regained their focus as that was when they equalized through Ryan de Vries to set up a frantic last twenty minute period for Team Wellington’s defence. The game had reached stoppage time when Waitakere United set up the last major incident of the game. A hopeful punt upfield by Jake Butler was met in the box by Brent Fisher whose backward header went past unlucky Wellington keeper James Bannatyne to secure a 4-4 aggregate score and progression to the final thanks to the away goals rule. Team Wellington were deeply disappointed not to reach the Grand Final as their performances over the two legs merited more but Waitakere United maintained the luck which sees them on the verge of an impressive New Zealand championship and O-League double.

Having won the minor premiership Auckland City were contemplating another NZFC grand final showdown with their arch-rivals from Waitakere United. However, despite having a slender 2-1 advantage from the first leg, Auckland City blew the chance to follow up their regular season success with another shot at the overall title. Canterbury United finished the regular season thirteen points behind Auckland and only qualified for the play-offs by virtue of having a better goal difference than Otago United. Even so the way in which Canterbury United took the game to their more fancied opponents is a credit to them as they didn’t allow the first leg result to affect their approach in the return leg in Auckland. With plenty of good football played by both teams the game came to life in the 26th minute when Russell Kamo scored the first of his two goals to give Canterbury United the lead. The game was still finely poised when Kamo scored his second just before the hour mark leaving the Auckland defence trailing in his wake. Auckland City, knowing that they were now trailing on aggregate, had to push further forward in the hope of levelling the tie overall but the Canterbury rearguard remained resolute and the outsiders were to be rewarded deep into stoppage time when Andy Barton completed the win by grabbing the third to secure a famous win for The Dragons. At least Auckland City can console themselves knowing that they have already secured one of New Zealand’s two places in the 2010-11 O-League as their reward for winning the regular season table.

The Grand Final takes place on Sunday, April 25th at the home of Waitakere United, the higher-ranked team in the regular season final table receiving home advantage. Waitakere United will hope to become New Zealand football champions for the second time in three seasons whilst Canterbury United will hope to have better luck than in their only appearance in the NZFC Grand Final in 2005-06 when they lost out to Auckland City via the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.

A United Front – Hekari and Waitakere reach O-League final

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on March 28, 2010
Hekari United

Hekari United topped Group B and will play Waitakere United in the OFC Champions League final

The final matches in the OFC Champions League group stage have taken place this weekend and it has been a dramatic finish especially in Group A, where New Zealand rivals Waitakere United and Auckland City fought it out once again to see which of them would be contesting Oceania’s footballing showpiece. In Group B there was a three way chase for the one final place with the fixture list proving kind to Papua New Guinea side Hekari United who led the table going into Matchday 6 and were facing wooden spoonists Marist FC whilst the other two teams Lautoka FC and Tafea FC needed to win and hope that Hekari United dropped points.

However there would be no such problems for Hekari United who scored all of their four goals in a 4-1 win against Marist FC in the first half and never looked back. The home side Marist, from the Solomon Islands, could only stand and admire the attacks from their superior opponents for whom, ironically, two Solomon Islanders would be among the goals. Henry Fa’arodo and Alick Maemae (2) did their bit to ensure that their compatriots would end up rock bottom of the table having accumulated just one point in six games (a surprise 0-0 draw away at Vanuatu champions Tafea FC) whilst Fijian Pita Bolatoga was the other scorer for Hekari who topped Group B with 13 points from six games, just one ahead of Lautoka FC who won their final match away to Tafea 3-1. Goals from Samuela Vula, Jone Vone and Sailesh Samy secured three points for the Fijians in a match which will sadly be noted for an unsavoury pitch invasion minutes from the end forcing the referee to call a premature halt to the game.

On Sunday the latest installment in New Zealand’s equivalent of the ‘Old Firm’ derby took place with Auckland City, the defending O-League champions, needing to win at home to arch-rivals Waitakere United who only needed a draw to ensure qualification to the final. Things couldn’t have started any better for United who went ahead after just three minutes, Benjamin Totori slotting home from a tight angle past Auckland custodian Jacob Spoonley but it wouldn’t be long before the home side restored parity when Daniel Kiprivcic scored from the penalty spot after his team mate Jason Hayne had been brought down inside the box. In the second half Benjamin Totori would score his and Waitakere’s second goal of the game to make things more difficult for Auckland. Just before the hour mark Totori let fly from the edge of the penalty area and scored to give United a 2-1 lead meaning that Auckland needed to score two goals without further reply to reach the final. In the 70th minute Auckland equalized for the second time when Greg Uhlmann’s header made it 2-2 and the home side would have a numerical advantage just three minutes later when Waitakere United’s Jake Butler was sent off for a second bookable offence. But despite this advantage Auckland City’s attempts at finding a third goal would ultimately prove fruitless as Waitakere United held out to secure the point they needed to qualify for the O-League final. In the other Group A game on Matchday 6 New Caledonia’s AS Magenta thrashed French Polynesians AS Manu Ura 8-1 to secure third place in the table.

The two-legged O-League final will be played on April 17th and May 2nd, Waitakere United will play the first leg in their home stadium in Auckland whilst the second leg will be played in Hekari United’s home ground in Port Moresby.

GROUP A

1. Waitakere United 6 games/12 points/+9 goal difference

2. Auckland City 6/12/+8

3. AS Magenta 6/6/+3

4. AS Manu Ura 6/1/-20

GROUP B

1. Hekari United 6/13/+8

2. Lautoka FC 6/12/+6

3. Tafea FC 6/8/-3

4. Marist FC 6/1/-11

OFC Champions League resumes with big wins for Auckland and Hekari United

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on February 13, 2010
FC Tafea

FC Tafea, perennial champions of Vanuatu, were defeated heavily away at Hekari United 4-0

The OFC Champions League, Oceania football’s showpiece club competition, resumed yesterday after a break of just over two months. With both of the four team groups having played up to the halfway point before Christmas each group resumed yesterday with matches that had major significance at the top of the respective tables. Defending champions Auckland City are in a good position to reach another final but there are still four other teams in each of the two groups who have ambitions of reaching the two-legged final on April 17th and May 2nd. “Stoppage Time” will review what has happened in the tournament so far:

GROUP A: Auckland City (Played 4 games/10 points), Waitakere United (3/5), AS Magenta (3/2), AS Manu Ura (4/1)

This group was always expected to be a two horse race between the great rivals of New Zealand football, Auckland City and Waitakere United, and their meeting scheduled for March 27th on the final matchday is already being touted as a possible group decider. After Matchday 3 the two Kiwi heavyweights were separated by just two points. Upon the resumption of the tournament it is Auckland City, the defending champions of Oceania, who have stolen a march on their rivals with a 2-0 away win in Tahiti against AS Manu Ura yesterday. Goals from Ian Hogg and Daniel Koprivcic were enough to give Auckland City, representatives in last year’s FIFA Club World Cup, three points and a healthy five point lead in the table before Waitakere United play their Matchday 4 game at home to French Polynesian side AS Magenta next Saturday.

GROUP B: Hekari United (Played 4 games/7 points), Tafea FC (4/7), Laukota FC (3/6), Marist FC (3/0)

At the halfway stage Group B was topped by Tafea FC, perennial champions of Vanuatu having won every league championship there since 1994, by just a point from Fijian side Laukota FC. With Papua New Guinea’s Hekari United on four points after three games one couldn’t discount their challenge in this tough group with only bottom side Marist FC from the Soloman Islands out of the running completely having lost all three group games so far. Yesterday the group was thrown wide open with a big 4-0 win for Hekari United at home to table-toppers Tafea FC. Goals from Alick Maemae (2), Tuimasi Manuca and Joachim Waroi allowed the Port Moresby based side to take the top spot on goal difference from Tafea. This result will give Laukota FC hope of stealing a march on the top two if they can overcome, as expected, the challenge of Marist FC tomorrow. This group could be decided by either the smallest of points margins or on goal difference as the top three will fight it out for the top spot which will guarantee a place in the O League final and the chance to qualify for the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup.

New Zealand: Race for the Play-Offs hots up

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on February 2, 2010
Auckland City FC

Auckland City FC, seen here celebrating the 2008-09 New Zealand Football Championship, are leading the way in the 2009-10 tournament.

The continuing rivalry between Auckland City and Waitakere United dominated the proceedings in the latest round of fixtures in the New Zealand Football Championship (NZFC). With both teams level on points before the game a win for either side would increase their chances of finishing first in the regular season standings. But there was more than just points at stake in this clash of the titans.

Since the beginning of the NZFC in 2004-05 these two city rivals have dominated the league. Auckland City have won the most championships winning four out of five available thus far (the only exception was Waitakere’s win in 2008) whilst Waitakere United have been crowned “Minor Premiers” (i.e. have topped the regular season standings) three times out of five with Auckland City being successful twice. The fact that the Minor Premiers and the overall champions qualify for the OFC Champions League means that these two arch-rivals have been perennial representatives of New Zealand. Since Australian clubs ceased to participate in the tournament following their move on to the Asian football scene, New Zealand’s big two have won the last four tournaments between them. Auckland City are the current OFC Champions League holders having beaten Koloale FC in last year’s final but were also successful in 2006, whilst Waitakere United won back-to-back tournaments in 2007 and 2008 so their rivalry is more than just a local dispute.

Auckland City began the game on Saturday unbeaten with 19 points from seven games, hosts Waitakere United were level on points albeit having played two games more than the league leaders. A crowd of just over two thousand witnessed the latest chapter of a fixture which always has something riding on the result. Unfortunately the crowd didn’t witness any goals in the first half although both sides did hit the woodwork on one occasion each. Thankfully for the expectant crowd it didn’t take long for the deadlock to be broken once the second half got under way. A header from Auckland City’s Chad Coombes opened the scoring on 53 minutes and they proceeded to take the game to their opponents for the next fifteen minutes. However the home side equalized in the 70th minute after some poor defending following a corner kick allowed Waitakere’s Tim Myers to prod home from close range. The final twenty minutes of the match saw the home side, buoyed by the equalizer, take the game to the champions but they were unable to grab that crucial second goal.

Elsewhere in the NZFC the chase for the fourth spots in the post-season Play-Offs remains tight although third-place Otago United cemented their place by defeating fourth-place Team Wellington 3-1. Team Wellington will now be looking over their shoulder as fifth-place Canterbury United, whose game at Hawkes Bay United was postponed, are only a point behind with two games in hand. The exotically named YoungHeart Manawatu blew their chance to go fourth when they lost 3-2 at home to Waikato FC whose win took them off the bottom of the standings, one point ahead of Hawkes Bay United. With each team playing fourteen matches in the regular season there is still a lot to play for especially as there is no relegation in the eight team NZFC and, therefore, the race for the Play-Offs is just starting to hot up in New Zealand.