Stephen Hoyle scores in final seconds as Tasman United fall to Canterbury
Close just isn't cutting it for Tasman United.
After proving once again that they can match it with one of the more established powers in the Stirling Sports Premiership, Tasman's latest fixture followed an all too familiar narrative that continues to finish with an unhappy ending.
Sunday's 3-2 defeat to Canterbury United at Trafalgar Park epitomises Tasman's season to date, coming close but not close enough as Stephen Hoyle clinched a dramatic late winner in the 93rd minute.
Tasman coach Richard Anderson described the late goal as a "cruel blow," while the despair was clear to see on the players' faces as they slumped, heads down in frustration, in the middle of the field at fulltime.
"I think the second half performance, we deserved to at least get a draw out of that. Canterbury were tired, we were becoming much more dominant and in control, and I think all that was missing at 2-2 was us nicking a goal. So to concede in stoppage time is a very, very cruel blow and it's a result I hand on heart don't think we deserved," Anderson said.
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The result leaves the premiership newcomers stuck at the bottom of the table after five successive defeats, Southern United edging ahead in ninth place after notching back-to-back victories for the first time in two years by stunning Hamilton Wanderers 4-0 the day before.
Dylan Burns, who produced his best performance in a Tasman shirt, opened the deadlock after 18 minutes, breaking through the Canterbury midfield and firing a long-range shot into the top corner.
But Tasman's undoing was the two goals they conceded within the space of two first half minutes, midfield dynamos Andre de Jong and Aaron Clapham continuing their rich goalscoring form to give Canterbury the edge at the break, Clapham's effort the pick of the two as he darted past three defenders before poking the ball into the bottom left corner.
Tinashe Marowa's 62nd minute equaliser, collecting a rebounded shot from Ermal Hajdari and making sure of it the second time, looked to have earned the home team a valuable point after a run of four losses leading into the Christmas break.
But it wasn't to be, Hoyle silencing the 1300 supporters by heading in the game-winner from a goalmouth scramble with just seconds left to play, the ball looping over Turipa and defender Daniel Allan.
"The lads were great in the way they regrouped, the way they followed instructions, they don't deserve this. I feel like I've said this week after week after week; we don't deserve this. I've never experienced anything like this and it baffles me the luck that we're having," Anderson said.
"Even when it looks like it's going in our favour, the stoppage time goal is a killer blow and Canterbury will be going away with a snatch and grab."
Turipa was lucky not to be sent off in the first half after clipping Hoyle, who had a clear run towards goal, outside of the box. He was just shown a yellow card.
By beating Tasman, Canterbury have got their hands on the newly-created Mainland Challenge Trophy but Clapham said he was just happy to bank another three points as they leap up to fifth place.
"I think that's our first trophy but the three points is huge for us. The table is so tight that we just had to get three points to start moving back up the table," the former All White said.
The task doesn't get any easier for Tasman with heavyweights Auckland City, who beat Team Wellington 3-1 to go top of the table, next on the fixture list.
AT A GLANCE
Canterbury United 3 (Andre de Jong, Aaron Clapham, Stephen Hoyle) Tasman United 2 (Dylan Burns, Tinashe Marowa)