Saints seal spot with late penalty
Rangers Pirates comfortably wrapped up the round two trophy, but it was a last-gasp victory for clubmates Rangers Saints which provided the major talking point as the Marlborough football division one competition wound up for the season at A&P Park on Saturday.
Extending their winning run to six in the process, Pirates finished round two unbeaten when they easily accounted for bottom-placed Trojans 5-0 on the No3 pitch.
However, there was much more drama next door on the No2 ground as a Matt Neal penalty with just three minutes remaining saw Saints edge Blenheim Valley Masters 4-3 and secure the fourth and final berth in the upcoming Top of the South (TOTS) competition. Saints and Masters were tied on points and goal differential heading into the match and if the score had remained 3-3 Masters would have finished fourth because they had one more mark in the "goals for" column.
Beaten for the first time this season when they lost to Pirates the previous week, BV Development bounced back with a 5-2 victory over Central on A&P No1. The result sees the BV youngsters qualify first for TOTS and finish second in round two. Despite the loss, Central were third over both rounds and will also be part of the TOTS competition.
Rangers Saints 4 BV Masters 3
Saints applied plenty of pressure and had plenty of ball in the final half hour, but with time running out the scores remained knotted at 3-3. Then, with just a few minutes to play, a Saints shot hit the hand of a BV player in the box and Neal stepped up to calmly slot home the penalty to send his side into the TOTS competition.
Masters led the possession and territory stakes in the first 45 minutes, but they were unable to convert numerous opportunities and Saints took almost all of the few they created to hold a 3-2 halftime advantage. A well-executed header from Ian Bridgen from a superb Dylan Tempero cross put Saints 1-0 up after 15 minutes and it was not long before they went up 2-0 through Nelson Salinas.
BV had hit the post twice and three Mike Croad headers from corners managed to elude the net by that stage, so it was ironic when they got one back via an own goal after a long throw from Croad.
Against the run of play Saints reinstated their two-goal lead when a charging Neal buried one into the bottom left corner from 18 yards following some more good work and a cut-back pass by Tempero. Another long throw from Croad saw Masters make it 3-2 just before halftime, Hakon Aslankilinc poking home from close range.
Paul McClean showed good strength to head home from a corner he forced to make it 3-3 early in the second spell and both sides missed clear-cut opportunities soon after.
But, Saints slowly started to get on top of a tiring Masters outfit and only some poor option taking in the red zone prevented them from securing the win earlier than Neal's penalty in the dying stages.
As well as scoring two important goals, Neal had a fine game in midfield. Tempero was typically dangerous up front, while in defence centre back Justin Grant and left back Robbie Columbus turned in strong performances.
For Masters, strikers McClean and Pestno were always busy, while the defensive trio of Mark Palmer, Lee Batty and Glenn Mawson did well to hold Saints out for a long period in the second half.
BV Development 5 Central 2
Playing with a strong wind at their backs, Development applied all the pressure in the early stages. They missed two golden chances before a Ronnie dos Santos penalty finally put them ahead after the Brazilian frontman was brought down at the top of the area.
Fellow striker Omar Guardiola was threatening and midway through the half he made it 2-0 with a calm finish past advancing Central keeper Mark Gear. A long-range thunderbolt into the top right corner from advanced left half Marius Diconi gave Development a deserved 3-0 lead at the break.
Guardiola almost matched Diconi with a fine effort from distance to make it 4-0 early in the second spell, but, rather than throw in the towel, from there Central fought back and actually finished the stronger of the two teams.
Julian Adamson score a cracking goal from outside the box to get the Blues on the board on the hour mark. Development briefly regained their four-goal buffer when dos Santos netted his second, but a top finish from Mutsumi Maeshinjo in the final 10 minutes gave Central a well-deserved 2-2 second half result.
Development player/coach Dave Turner was happy with his side's performance given a number of players were out late on Friday night at the combined colleges formal. Because of that, they tired and fell off the pace in the final 20 minutes and Central were able to have their best period of the match and grab a couple of goals back.
He singled out skipper and defensive link-man Taine Swete for a fine all-round performance and also mentioned dos Santos and right half Arna Roberts as standouts.
Central spokesman Greg Stretch said after a slow start they were pleased to finish the game strongly and draw the second half 2-2. Defender Matt Metcalfe was named their player of the day, while midfielder Dicky Hayward, left winger James Crockett and gloveman Gear also performed well.
Rangers Pirates 5 Trojans 0
Pirates player/coach Aaron Hayes was pleased with the final result, but felt the match was pretty scrappy throughout and said his side only played well in patches.
A rare goal to defender Richie Vercoe, after he followed up his own header, gave Pirates the lead on 10 minutes. However, they were far from dominating Trojans in the opening half hour and the cellar dwellers had plenty of running in them as they pushed forward on several occasions.
But, Hayes crossed in from the left for Khalid Suleiman to score and give Pirates a 2-0 lead at the break and by the time Suleiman netted his second early in the second spell his side were starting to gain ascendancy. Two goals to skipper Hayes, the first a top finish from the corner of the area, in the last half hour sealed victory and the round two trophy, the match losing its intensity in the final 15 minutes.
Hayes said they probably got better as the game wore on, but no training during the week had not helped and meant they showed only glimpses of the way they played in their win over Development. Vercoe was their man of the match, while midfielder Brendon Lang and striker Shane Evans were also singled out for praise.
Trojans spokesman Jim Western said that after playing pretty well in the first half, his team ran out of puff in the second. Goalkeeper Hamish Bruce and midfielder Steve Plant were their best performers.
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