Palmerston North Marist showed the depth of their squad when they finished the Central League season with a 5-3 win over relegation-bound Upper Hutt at Memorial Park on Saturday.
Marist were without key players, striker Jerram Tuck as well as hard-running midfielders Tyson Brandt and Jono Steele but they still had too much class for an average Upper Hutt team.
In winning, Marist set two records in their inaugural season back in one of the country's premier football competitions that coach Simon Lees said was reward for a lot of hard work.
"To score the most points recorded by a Marist side in Central League and the highest number by a newly-promoted side shows we've developed really well," Lees said. "It gives us a lot to build on for next season when we need to push on."
Marist's 25 points are two more than the most achieved by a promoted team, as well as previous Marist sides, while the eight wins and a draw from 18 games and the 39 goals scored mainly by Tuck and Tomas Mosquera is impressive.
"Seventh place is pretty good in a tight league," Lees said. "We could have done better apart from a poor month mid-season when we let ourselves down.
"But we've shown that we are a strong contender in what is a tough league and our 3-0 win over Wellington Olympic would be a standout for me."
Marist's attacking quality has been a hallmark all season and it proved the difference on Saturday with Mosquera brilliant, not only with his two goals, but the way he put himself about the pitch making him a nightmare to defend.
After a disappointing early season with his indiscipline, the talented Jordan Martens had another outstanding game with his versatility. The usual left back has also played up front this season but maybe found his best position on Saturday as an attacking midfielder.
A fast start by Upper Hutt had Marist under pressure until Mosquera scored a wonder goal with his nifty footwork, beating three players before scoring with a neatly taken shot. Martens made it 2-0 before Pedro Garcia pulled one back before the break.
Rhys Gayler and Fin Milne made it 4-2 before Marist slackened off, allowing Upper Hutt to close to 4-3 before Mosquera scored his sixth goal in the past two games.
- Manawatu Standard
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