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North Wellington keep title hopes alive

North Wellington – 4, Tuskan Raiders – 0
Wellington College, 22 July 2018

Tuskan NZ

North Wellington defeated Tuskan Raiders 4-0 to hold second place on the Wellington Sunday Football League Division One table as the season enters its final stages.

With four teams vying for three places at the top of the table, this was a pivotal match for both teams. Tuskan Raiders had started the season strongly and won the previous encounter with North Wellington 2-0 but many key players were missing due to injury.

Tuskan started with no reserves and was reduced to ten men five minutes into the match when midfielder Duarte Victorino was helped from the field with an ankle injury.

Sustained pressure from North Wellington ensued, with Max Petersen disrupting Tuskan’s defensive line. Reinforcements arrived for Tuskan as Seth Miller made his return from injury to take the field on the 15-minute mark, but not before Petersen blazed home a powerful shot from the edge of the 18-yard box to bring the score to 1-0.

Tuskan fought hard into the wind, with strong play and commitment in the centre from Jake Ninness and breakaway runs from Jorge Mantaras. Mantaras came close to scoring on multiple occasions, even hitting the crossbar with a shot from just inside the penalty area.

Left midfielder Alex Jones and right wing back Hayden King showed pace for North Wellington, making quick progress. Petersen looked hampered by injury but made a nuisance of himself up front. One shot ricocheted off the crossbar, another thudded into a defender’s back, and a third into the keeper’s arms from an acute angle before he proved his finishing ability once more, pouncing on a loose ball to bring the score to 2-0 at half time.

Tuskan regained composure at the start of the second half, shutting Petersen out and regularly finding Ninness, Mantaras and striker Girardo Aguilero upfield. Tuskan strove to score but couldn’t find the finishing touch. A cross skimmed Aguilero’s hair, denying a header chance that would have led to a certain goal. Arlo Rose had a long look at goal but was shut down by defenders. Mantaras chipped the ball into the arms of keeper Byron Bos.

North Wellington was playing a strategic game. Led by Michael Chin, the defenders played as one, holding strong with four or five players behind the ball for every attack. They played for possession, with the 2-0 lead forcing Tuskan to expend energy chasing the ball.

This defensive strategy paid off midway through the second half and North Wellington began to launch attacks again as Tuskan’s energy waned. Matt Ryan of North Wellington had been tightly marked in the first half but began to find space and joined several counterattacks. The next goal came from his right boot as he gathered a deflection from the keeper before defenders could reach him, shooting left to bring the score to 3-0.

By the end of the half, Tuskan had run themselves ragged. Ryan found his way into the box for North Wellington once more, holding the ball for what seemed like an eternity before drawing the single remaining defender and chipping a floating pass to Lachie Philipson, who was waiting at the far post to bring the score to 4-0 with a point-blank header.

Tuskan captain Jono McLeod said playing without substitutes had made for a tough game.

“I think everyone’s just about dead. North Wellington’s a pretty classy team, and they used strategy to close the game out.”

Chin said North Wellington had built to a strong finish this season. The team is the current Wellington Sunday Football League Summer Champions, and also has its sights on the Cup, progressing to the semi-finals after an 11-1 thrashing of Zazaspor in the previous round.

Tuskan Raiders were founded 21 years ago, and the team has made a name for itself as a Division One favourite. This result means they will finish the season in fourth place, while the win cements North Wellington in second behind Division One leaders Sudakas FC.

Sunday Blazers hold third place, keeping in contention with a 3-1 win over Lazy 11. Lokomotiv Beer Quarter held fifth place in Division One with a 5-4 victory over Universal Language.

Valley FC Trust extended its lead in Division Two with a 5-0 win over Zazaspor. The result meant Zazaspor dropped to third, overtaken by Marauders FC who won 7-3 over Battlers FC in a repeat of last week’s goal fest. Former league leaders V-Well FC have dropped to fourth following three straight losses, the latest scoreline 3-1 in favour of Fireraiders. HHH United went down 1-0 to Inter Galactic FC while Los Blazeros bested Four Four Two 2-1.

Ball Tamperers hold top spot in Division Three with a 5-1 win over Terrace-Nadi, closely followed by Westwood United in second place. Expected Toulouse are in third place following promotion from Division Four earlier in the season.

SVH extended its lead over the competition in Division Four with a 3-1 win over Wellington Chinese United, enabling Trentham United to seize second place on the table with a 5-2 win over Pirates FC while Wellington Chinese United dropped to third place.

Thirty-six teams are competing in this year’s Wellington Sunday Football League, a community based 11-a-side league that was founded over 40 years ago and is growing year-on-year. A full table of results and fixtures can be found at https://tinyurl.com/WSFL2018.

Categories: Wellington Sunday Football League

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Fraser May

I alternate between club, indoor and street football. I'm keen on the social game and have been known to bother urban Wellington by playing street football at night. I usually play keeper or wing back, and I'm enough of a geek to enjoy football manager games.

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