Wairarapa United bank six points over long weekend with two victories
Wairarapa United resurrected their title challenge after their away defeat to Wellington Olympic last weekend with two wins in four days over Easter.
On Friday, they edged out Western Suburbs, 2-1, in a hard-fought contest at Memorial Park in Masterton. The visitors fought hard despite being reduced to 10 men with Paul Ifill and Sam Mason-Smith scoring United's goals.
On Monday, the side travelled to Napier to play at Park Island, which is one of the toughest places in New Zealand to get points at.
After a thrilling encounter watched by a vocal home crowd, Wairarapa weathered the literal storm as well as the bluster of their opponents and left with all three points with a 4-3 win.
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The clouds opened up during the match with a torrential downpour and even some hail leaving the pitch severely waterlogged in places. The players were literally walking on water on parts of the field.
That didn't stop Sam Mason-Smith bagging a brace, the striker continuing his scoring hot-streak. Ifill and Alex Ridsdale also scored in the win.
United coach Phil Keinzley said he was rapt with the results because both sides they beat over the weekend will take points from the top sides this season. He was happy to have come through a very difficult opening four games with nine points from a possible 12.
"We are working things out, and our strongest side is a bit of a moving target, it changes according to injuries and form. I was really happy with Cory Chettleburgh against Napier, he put in a solid shift in the middle and really made a difference for us.
"The boys were a bit slow off the mark after the Friday game and then the road trip up to Napier but after a slow first half pushed on and made the game theirs which was really good to see."
Keinzley also made special mention of Ridsdale and Daniel Allan, who he said put in strong performances.
Some of the plaudits went to returning veteran of the side Seule Soromon.
"I was actually thinking of subbing Seule at the break but decided not to. He upped his game massively in the second half and ended up finishing the match with two crucial assists.
"I don't think his fitness is there yet but he certainly made a telling contribution to the result."
United are now up to third on the table, one point behind joint leaders Team Taranaki and Stop Out. United play Taranaki at home in Masterton this Sunday in what will be one of the matches of the round.