Canterbury United extended their winning sequence to five but had a tougher time than expected before putting away Manawatu 2-0 in the ASB premiership football league in Palmerston North yesterday.
Canterbury could not breach the lowly ranked home team's defence until the 74th minute when Darren White netted but then sewed the contest up with a second strike 11 minutes later by Russell Kamo.
The win lifts the Dragons to second on the points table, just one behind unbeaten Waitakere who they host on Sunday at English Park.
Manawatu produced their best performance of the past two seasons and were pressing Canterbury after a scoreless first half.
But it was Canterbury who broke the deadlock in the 74th minute.
Substitute Ken Yamamoto played a low cross along the edge of the penalty area to Russell Kamo. Kamo squared it to where a rampaging White made no mistake with his strike, a blistering right-foot drive into the roof of the net.
Manawatu rallied but 11 minutes later the match was sealed. A rare error from YoungHeart goalkeeper Matt Borren saw the ball spilled right to the feet of Kamo. With the open goal at his mercy, the striker made no mistake.
Canterbury coach Keith Braithwaite was quick to praise the opposition.
"We struggled a bit today because they didn't let us play. Full credit to them, and at the end of the day we've come away relieved with three points."
Waitakere United's 3-1 win over 10-man Hawke's Bay United kept the West Aucklanders top and preserved their six-match unbeaten run. Otago United ended its 14-match winless streak with a 1-0 victory over Team Wellington thanks to a Joel Stevens strike six minutes from time.
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