Central United 3, Hamilton Wanderers 2
Kiwitea Street, Auckland, July 4 2015
Skyrockets in flight but no afternoon delight
By Rod de Lisle – Hamilton Wanderers first team manager
After knocking over Central regularly over the last year or two (in the league anyway), it all came crashing back to earth for Wanderers in this game as the pesky Croatians snatched a late goal to nick it 3-2 at Kiwitea Street.
Central celebrated the Fourth of July after a fashion. Some skyrockets were fired off at various intervals, rather ineffectively, being daytime and that. And there were some blue and yellow balloons on poles. Not exactly New York’s Times Square, but the point is they made the effort. And every time you show up at Central there is a little bit of pomp and performance of some sort, even a singer on the pitch last year. Most clubs simply don’t bother trying this stuff, which is probably why they lack the success Central have enjoyed over the last 30 odd years.
Another thing about Central is that their pitch is shoehorned into a small suburban quarter acre section at the back of some old state houses. Given Auckland prices it’s probably worth about 40 million dollars but the lack of space means their technical areas are the size of postage stamps, and their concrete dugouts perch at the edge of the pitch. As a result we spend matches at Kiwitea ducking wayward bullet passes and fending off the occasional player; it’s like a World War One bunker facing the wrong way. I kid you not. There is evidence of collateral damage in the garage on the hill backing onto the dugouts, three of the four windows are smashed and the fibrolite broken. I offered Adam Luque a crisp twenty if he could smash the last window during the course of this game. An easy ask I would have thought, given his propensity for panoramic clearances, but he didn’t oblige.
I’ve avoided talk of the actual game you may have noticed, writing losing match reports about one’s team is like sticking red hot pins into one’s private parts, but here we go. Early on Central nearly went ahead when Iwata smashed a shot that was defected onto a goal post. Relieved, the away side swung onto attack, Jama Boss drilling an effort narrowly wide, then a real goal arrived when Michael Built headed in a peach from a Wade Molony cross. Danyon Drake in the Central goal was stranded like the stony faces in the Bruce Springsteen 4th July song. Jinkin’ Federico Marquez was turning on the style and showing how to play, South American style. 1-0 to the Wanderers was the halftime score.
After halftime Molony lost the ball in midfield and Central raced away to equalize, a good effort from Murati but soon Boss restored the advantage when Marquez powered a hopeful shot into the area and the diminutive striker was on hand to tap in. It was looking good for the Hamilton side. Not for long, alas, as a Central cross bisected the Wanderers defenders for another equalizer, this time a free header to Zambrano. 2-2. The crowd were certainly getting good value for their money though for Wanderers coach, Mark Cossey, the stress meter was hitting 11.
But cue a period of determined Wanderers pressure. Man of the match Built made life difficult for the home defence who also had to deal with the tireless Mark Jones and classy Alexi Varela, although Jones was eventually forced off injured. Though Boss and Luque both coaxed decent saves from Drake Wanderers couldn’t conjure a winner. As both side strived for the winner a little friction crept in and there were late yellows to Jones then to Konings and Sam Redwood. The final act was played out deep into injury-time at a free kick when Central’s Pineau ducked away from the defence and headed home.
Wanderers also headed home, a somber trip after losing in such a galling way. But the lads shouldn’t be too downcast, they played their part in a rollicking match that could have gone their way. No 4th July celebrations perhaps, but no rockets from the coach either.
Categories: NZ Northern Men's Premier
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