Disputed penalties irk YoungHeart
YoungHeart Manawatu coach Stu Jacobs was lamenting a string of costly refereeing calls after two more in Christchurch yesterday put paid to his team's hopes in the national league.
Canterbury United ran out 4-1 winners on the artificial turf at ASB Football Park, with home-town-hero Aaron Clapham bagging a hat-trick.
YoungHeart were lacking experience with Adam Cowan suspended and Jordan Martens unavailable, but Jacobs was only blaming one thing for the defeat.
"There was a really questionable penalty early on, but we seem to cop those sorts of things on a weekly basis," he said.
"Then we equalised with a penalty of our own and then in the second half they got another penalty call for handball where they were just over-zealous on us, I thought.
"It just seems like we're never the ones benefiting from those big moments in the game, the moments that change the game. I thought that was one of our better displays defensively but obviously the scoreboard doesn't reflect that."
The teams went into the shed at 1-all after Clapham's first-half penalty was cancelled out by a well-taken penalty from YoungHeart striker Seule Soromon.
Canterbury finished with a flourish, scoring three times in the final half-hour.
"I thought we were quite dominant in that first half," Jacobs said. "Even after the break we stayed in the game for a long period of time.
"We didn't lose it because they ripped us apart; it was something out of our control that gave them the buffer, so what can you do other than be heartened by that?"
Jacobs said the performance showed the team's depth had grown.
Their trip to Christchurch last year ended in a 9-1 humbling and Jacobs said the trip was always a difficult assignment.
"It's tough on a couple of fronts. They've obviously got a winning team down here and so they come out and support them.
"Plus the pitch itself is interesting because it's turf-based.
"One of their lads played a square ball and it just held up on the turf, which led to one of their goals.
"But I thought on the whole we adjusted to that challenge well and I definitelydon't want to blame the turf."
YoungHeart finish the season next week at home against a strong Auckland side.
Despite the odd spark shown through the season, the 46 goals conceded in 13 games mean it is likely they will remain the league cellar-dwellers.
But even a point from their final game could lift them off the bottom if other results went their way and Jacobs said his team would be going all out for that.
"Obviously we haven't won at home this season, apart from the Phoenix, so we want to give the fans something they can celebrate."
Scorers: Canterbury United 3 (Aaron Clapham 11, 70, 82; Russell Kamo 59) YoungHeart Manawatu 1 (Seue Soromon 33) HT 1-all.
Other games: Auck 7 Waikato 1, Otago 0 Wellington 2, Hawke's Bay 0 Waitakere 3.