Captain Paul Ifill scores four as Tasman United end first season on a high
Captain Paul Ifill said that one was for the fans as a depleted Tasman United side ended their inaugural Stirling Sports Premiership season with a record 5-2 victory at home to Southern United.
Continuing to thrive under coach Davor Tavich, Ifill was Tasman's star man at Trafalgar Park on Saturday, scoring four goals, including two penalties, while he assisted on the team's other goal, scored by Tinashe Marowa.
The former Wellington Phoenix star said the players wanted to give their home supporters something to celebrate in the final round of the regular season, and that's exactly what happened as the Nelson-based side ran riot thanks largely to the 37-year-old's individual brilliance.
"We've put in some pretty average performances at times, it's not to say we haven't tried, but we haven't hit the ground running. But the three games that Davor has been in charge at home we've won and I think that's made the difference," he said.
"I hope these guys feel like they've been entertained today and that they will want to come back."
Southern, needing a win to get themselves off the bottom of the table, made a bright start to the game but failed to capitalise on their numerous chances as Ifill broke the deadlock in the 14th minute following a mazing run from winger Ermal Hajdari.
Ifill's second came from the penalty spot after he was clipped by a Southern defender in the box.
Danny Furlong, who scored a brace on the day, headed Southern to within just one goal in the 33rd minute but the second half belonged to Tasman, who ended the season in spectacular fashion.
Following the suspensions of Alex Ridsdale, Cameron Lindsay and Luca Perico and the unavailability of Ryan Stewart, Tavich was forced to make three changes to the team that lost 5-1 to Team Wellington last weekend.
Right-back Labu Pan and midfielder Claudio Amad were on debut while Matt Tod-Smith was handed his first start of the season.
Three other teenagers were substituted on the field in the second half; David Maisey, Callan Elliot and another debutant, Chester Gaskin.
Ifill hailed the performances of the youngsters, particularly 18-year-old Pan, who had not trained with the team for three months.
"I thought he was excellent. To not train for the last three months, he's come in and made his national league debut and he did not look out of place one bit.
"I thought all the boys did really well and it's nice to see it because old fellas like me can't go around forever and we have to bring those young boys through and this club is doing that."
As for Ifill's future, he said he wants to continue playing in the Premiership and isn't ruling out a return to Tasman next season.
"It depends who is in charge and whether or not they want me," he said.
"I still want to play and I still have ambitions to carry on playing. I'm not going to get any quicker but as you can see today, if you give me chances I'll put them in the back of the net."
The result sees Tasman end their first season in the Premiership with 17 points, finishing up in eighth place with a record of four wins, five draws and nine losses.
AT A GLANCE
Tasman United 5 (Paul Ifill 4, Tinashe Marowa) Southern United 2 (Danny Furlong 2)