Canterbury United secure last gap victory over Tasman United
Stephen Hoyle is fast earning a reputation for his last gasp heroics.
The English striker netted an added time winner as Canterbury United gained a crucial 3-2 Stirling Sports Premiership victory over Tasman United at Nelson's Trafalgar Park on Sunday. They also take the Mainland Challenge Trophy back to Christchurch with the win.
Hoyle popped up in a goal mouth scramble to head home and deny bottom placed Tasman a deserved point in the Mainland derby.
It wasn't the first time Hoyle has rescued Canterbury in the closing stages this season. He also struck in the fourth minute of added time to secure a 1-1 draw against Hawke's Bay United in November.
*Canterbury United try to overturn Gary Ogilvie red card
*Tasman United goalkeeper Coey Turipa fired up to face former team Canterbury
*Canterbury United striker Stephen Hoyle links with Nomads United
"I think a draw would not be a fair result. It's not being arrogant. It's just how the game went," Canterbury coach Willy Gerdsen said.
"We didn't have the intensity and urgency after halftime, but we still controlled the game. I was happy with the performance for 60 minutes."
Hoyle's goal could prove vital come the end of round-robin play with a stack of sides fighting it out for top four positions.
Canterbury improved to fifth on the table and trail second placed Team Wellington, Eastern Suburbs and Waitakere United by just a point.
It could have been a completely different game if former Canterbury goalkeeper Coey Turipa had been shown a red card in the 10th minute.
The Tasman stopper should have been sent off after committing a foul on Hoyle outside the box when he was the last defender.
Hoyle looked set to burst away from Turipa, but was brought down.
Turipa must have thought he was headed for an early shower, but was fortuitously awarded a yellow by referee Anna-Marie Keighley.
Gerdsen was dumbfounded why Turipa was allowed to stay on the park.
"I asked the question, but didn't get an answer.
"It was a clear goal scoring chance. I didn't understand the rule. He got yellow and we got the free kick."
Tasman belied their bottom of the table status and again matched it with Canterbury, having drawn 2-2 with them in Christchurch in the opening match of the season.
Canterbury showed touches of their class with skipper Aaron Clapham and Andre de Jong both scoring a minute a part in the first half.
The Dragons were guilty of drifting in and out of the match and couldn't take advantage of a strong wind at their backs in the second half.
Colin van Gool, who launched a hard-hit long range shot on goal, and Roddy Lockhart, both went close with chances, but again Canterbury couldn't quite capitalise.
Trailing 2-1 at halftime, Tasman levelled midway through the second half thanks to exciting youngster Tinashe Marowa, who scored from a rebound, following an initial shot from Ermal Hajdari.
Tasman, who had lost their previous four matches, went ahead 1-0 in the 19th minute after de Jong and Tom Schwarz failed to close down Dylan Burns.
Playing into the wind, Canterbury found an equaliser 10 minutes out from halftime following a neat one-two between de Jong and Lockhart, in just his second start for the Dragons.
It was the third goal in as many games for de Jong, who produced a tidy finish past his former Canterbury team-mate and flatmate Turipa.
Clapham put the Dragons ahead just a minute later with a fine individual effort.
The former All White picked the ball on the halfway line and sliced through some woeful Tasman defence, driving his way into the penalty area and firing the ball into the net.
Clapham has scored six goals from the penalty spot this season, but his ninth strike of the campaign was of the highest order and just what Canterbury required heading into halftime.
Midfield maestros Clapham and de Jong were among Canterbury's best, causing the Tasman defence problems whenever they roamed forward on attack.
Canterbury host Southern United, on a two-game winning run, at English Park in their next match on Sunday.
AT A GLANCE:
Canterbury United 3 (Andre de Jong 36', Aaron Clapham 37', Stephen Hoyle 90 +3' ) Tasman United 2 (Dylan Burns 19', Tinashe Marowa 63') HT: 2-1
Other round 10 scores: Southern 4 (Eric Molloy 2, Danny Furlong, Sam Cosgrave) beat Hamilton Wanderers 0; Auckland City 3 (Emiliano Tade 2, incl pen, Ryan De Vries) beat Team Wellington 1 (Ben Harris); Phoenix Reserves 1 (own goal) drew with Eastern Suburbs 1 (Sean Lovemore); Waitakere 1 (Ethan Galbraith) beat Hawke's Bay 0.
Points (games played): Auckland City 19 (9), Team Wellington 17 (10), Eastern Suburbs 17 (10), Waitakere 17 (10), Canterbury United 16 (10) Phoenix Reserves 15 (10), Hawke's Bay 13 (10), Hamilton Wanderers 12 (9), Southern United 7 (10), Tasman United 5 (10).