In an error-ridden game, two pieces of brilliance secured Palmerston North Marist their first Central League win in more than a month when they beat Lower Hutt City 2-1 at Memorial Park on Saturday.
Marist has played better in games they've lost but, against a side still under threat of relegation it was never going to be a pretty game as the Lower Hutt and Marist players scrapped for every piece of possession.
Marist coach Simon Lees admitted it wasn't pretty, as both sides' passing was poor, giving the ball away to opposition players when under no pressure.
"When you're struggling for wins it doesn't matter how they come," he said. "Sometimes you have to just get out there and scrap for a win and that's what we did today."
Lees admitted some of his players were struggling for confidence after a string of four losses where they've conceded almost four goals a game with poor defence.
"That win, even though it wasn't the best game, will do us the world of good. Even though we still made a couple of mistakes we didn't let it get us down and kept a pretty tight defence for the full game."
It was a game of few chances with Marist rarely able to get the ball forward to strikers Jerram Tuck and Tomas Mosquera who were both clearly frustrated at times with Marist able to string passes together at the back, but as soon as they pushed into the midfield, they gave the ball away.
Apart from the two goals, Marist only created three other scoring chances, while Lower Hutt had even less and appeared devoid of ideas.
The game didn't start well for Marist, who handed Lower Hutt the opening goal after a horrible clearance from defender Wade Randle, who, to his dismay, cleared the ball straight to the Lower Hutt striker unmarked on the edge of the goal box who promptly slammed the ball home.
After a poor first 20 minutes, Marist's best player, Jeremy Wild, on the end of 20 consecutive passes, hit a fantastic first-time left foot volley home from a tight angle as the ball came across him.
Striker Jerram Tuck then put Marist ahead when his speed got him to a ball behind the Lower Hutt defence and in front of their goalkeeper.
Along with Wild, livewire midfielders Tyson Brandt and Jono Steele had strong games. In Federation League Cup games, Wanganui Athletic went top of group A with a high-scoring 5-3 win over Havelock North Wanderers while Marist Reserves beat Palmerston North Boys' High School 2-1 in a battle of the bottom-placed sides.
North End's erratic season continued when they held Central League promotion playoff-bound Team Taranaki to 2-2 in New Plymouth, though Taranaki remained top of group B on goal difference.
Red Sox-Manawatu beat Feilding 2-0 in the other game.
- Manawatu Standard
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