A red card in the first minute of the game put paid to any hopes Central had of winning their national league game against Mainland in Christchurch yesterday.
Goalkeeper Courtney Norman was sent off in the first minute of the match, leaving Central to fight out the rest of the match with only 10 players and they still managed to fight out a 3-2 loss.
Central coach Simon Lees wasn't happy with the red card, believing it was a dubious call.
"[I'm] really really disappointed with that sort of decision."
Mainland played a through-ball into the box and Norman got a hand to it just as the Mainland player got to it, so the Mainland player went down.
Norman was sent off and Mainland awarded the penalty but it was saved by defender Ruby Tufuga who filled in at goalkeeper and was an "absolute superstar", Lees said.
But it was always going to be tough playing almost the entire game a player down.
Hollie Cleaver had another strong game in defence while Emma Boyack was her usual dangerous self, scoring two second-half goals
Lees was disappointed it wasn't an even game but they improved their play after a few words at halftime.
"The performance of the girls was outstanding; I can't fault what they did. They work so incredibly hard; they could have packed it in after the seventh minute."
Mainland were up 2-0 at the break and while Central fought back with two goals in the second half, they couldn't overhaul the Cantabrians.
Central are at home against Football South in Palmerston North next weekend. They drew 3-all in the first round in Dunedin.
Mainland 3 (Ashleigh Ward 5'; Laura Merrin 35'; Meikayla Moore 82') Central 2 (Emma Boyack 57', 90'). HT 2-0.
- Manawatu Standard
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