Red Sox hanging on in bid for league title

TONY COFFIN
Last updated 12:00 08/07/2013
Emily McColl and Tessa McPherson
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
CLOSE DEFENCE: Massey's Emily McColl screens the ball from Seatoun's Tessa McPherson during their match at Memorial Park yesterday.

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Red Sox-Manawatu kept alive their slim chances of winning the Federation League with an unconvincing 2-1 win over bottom-placed Feilding at Memorial Park on Saturday.

After the win, Red Sox are just three points behind league leaders Marist who have two games in hand. Taranaki and Taradale are just behind Red Sox and all three could pose problems for Marist.

Despite suffering another loss, Feilding coach Jeff Gleave was just thankful to have his best team on the pitch for the first time.

"We've been hit with injuries all season but for once didn't need to have any of our B-team players," Gleave said. "It showed as we put them under a fair bit of pressure and I believe could have picked up a point."

Gleave said if the script follows last season, Feilding will be in for a bumper end to the season.

"When we finally got our best team on the pitch last season, we ended with five wins."

Abe McPherson headed Red Sox into a halftime lead with Josh Chettleburgh pinching the ball off the Feilding defence to double the score with five minutes left. Sam McKendry scored for Feilding with a minute left.

North End found the trip to New Plymouth a massive hurdle and were thumped 7-0 by Taranaki.

Massey University broke the hex that Seatoun has had on them for many seasons with a convincing 2-0 win in the women's Central League at Memorial Park yesterday.

After the loss on penalties in the national knockout quarterfinal last week, it was important Massey got back to winning in the league. The win kept Massey four points ahead of Waterside-Karori with three games remaining.

Massey coach Simon Lees was ecstatic with his team's strong performance against Seatoun.

"That was one of our best efforts of the season."

There's no doubt Massey are missing the finishing power of striker Emma Boyack, who is out for the season, and Lees has altered the way his team attacks.

"Clearly any team, who loses a player with 30 goals to her name this season, is going to [miss that player]," he said.

"But we can't change that and with a few adjustments, we're still a very dangerous side."

Lees said Massey's goal for the rest of the season was simple. "Before today we needed three wins from four games to guarantee the league and after today we need two more against Wellington United and Valeron.

"I don't want us to be going down to Waterside, needing a win in the final game."

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Lees has moved usual defender Jess Oulaghan to striker and her sweet left foot provided both goals yesterday. The first came when she ran on to a raking pass from midfielder Leah Gallie, slotting the ball under excellent Seatoun goalkeeper Anna Wittman-Wenzel.

Oulaghan scored the second after running on to another pass that split the Seatoun defence, this time from Jane Barnett.

Massey controlled most of the ball through their midfield of Emily McColl, Gallie, Karin Ingram and birthday girl Barnett. Along with central defenders Jess Green and Rosie Missen, Seatoun were limited to rare attacks out wide, with left back Kate Bennett outstanding.

Goalkeeper Courtney Norman had little to do but she pulled off a stunning save late in the game.

Valeron suffered a surprise 3-2 loss to Upper Hutt in Hutt Valley with promising striker Kowhai Hudson scoring both goals.

- Manawatu Standard

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