Top clash features fine individual efforts
Red Sox-Manawatu and Marist fought out an entertaining 1-all draw at Memorial Park on Saturday in a game marked by two outstanding individual performances.
There was little between the sides but with the draw and Wanganui City winning, they have slipped away to a two-point lead in the western premiership.
YoungHeart national league officials, who were again absent from a top-of-the-table clash, missed another high-class effort by Marist striker Tyson Brandt. His link play and delivery to wide players Steven Tippett and Jason Boise was a key to Marist's quickfire attacks.
The league's standout player, Dane Cleaver, turned in a stunning performance up front for Red Sox as he continually harried the Marist defenders, who often resorted to double teaming him.
Such is Cleaver's fitness that he even got back and defended when Red Sox were under pressure but was then able to quickly get forward to lead any attack.
In a blistering opening 15 minutes, Red Sox took the lead with Cleaver tapping in a corner at the back post. Minutes later, Cleaver looked to have put Red Sox 2-0 up when a long kick looped over the Marist defence with Cleaver heading in over the keeper, only for the linesman to rule him offside. Striker Caleb Gaylard then missed a clear chance from 12 metres and Michael Sheridan hit the crossbar.
Marist controlled the final 20 minutes before Tippett scored and while Marist began the second half in control, it was Red Sox who created the best chances only for a shot or final pass to go astray.
Tippett, Boise and Brandt were dominant for Marist, with defender Scott Hales making important tackles. Other than Cleaver, Sheridan had a strong second half, while halftime substitute James Kelly was impressive, with Hamish McKay strong in the central defence.
Injuries to key players aren't helping Feilding AFC as they were beaten 4-1 by Wanganui City in Whanganui. Coach Jeff Gleave even put himself on the card after losing key playmaker Aaron Richardson with a broken ankle two weeks ago, Tony Galvin with a broken toe and quality goal-keeper Colin Fuldseth after he fell in the shower after the game last week and broke his arm.
"We just can't buy a trick at the moment," Gleave said. "We're playing pretty well but not getting the rub of the green."
Feilding held out until just before halftime before conceding the first goal.
Palmerston North Boys' High School finally put their scoring boots on as they crushed a poor Wanganui Athletic 5-0 at Skoglund Park after leading 1-0 at the break.
An injury at that stage to goal-keeper Andrew Drake forced national league player Jordan Martens to switch to goalkeeper but that made no difference with the students scoring four more goals.
They could have easily doubled their score.
Boys' High's goals came from Coleman Burston, Ryan Giles, Anu Ganugapati, Sean Liddicoat, and an own goal.
North End looked well in control of their crucial game with Taranaki at Skoglund Park, even with the scores locked at 2-all. They will still be wondering how they could end up losing 5-2.
Coach Garry Hodge was bitterly disappointed but was confident his side could turn things around. "We need to start better and defend better," he said. "We're just giving opposition sides too many chances."
Hodge scored in the first spell with lively striker Sam Adeyinka netting the second.