Team Taranaki scoop cup final trophy

ON THE RUN: Morgan Hall strides forward for Team Taranaki against PNBHS at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth.
ON THE RUN: Morgan Hall strides forward for Team Taranaki against PNBHS at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth.

Team Taranaki finally have some silverware to show for their efforts this season.

The composite team on Saturday lifted the Central Football's Federation Cup trophy beating Wanganui Athletic in the cup final at Wanganui.

In a hard fought match that included more than its share of niggle, the difference between the two sides was a successful penalty kick taken by TT midfielder Morgan Hall midway through the second half.

It was the first time Team Taranaki had beaten the league winner's in their four encounters between the two teams this year.

The game was not without drama, according to jubilant head coach Ian McGrath.

"Athletic picked up several yellow cards as they tried to impose themselves on the game physically," he said, adding Athletic had a player sent off midway through the first half to add to their woes.

The first half produced very few clear scoring chances and was littered with free kicks which disrupted the flow of the game," McGrath said.

"We certainly got stronger as the game went on and enjoyed more consistent periods of territory and possession," he said.

With two forced substitutions with the first 50 minutes due to injury, Team Taranaki were forced to gamble on the depth of their bench and had to change formations.

Athletic looked increasingly unable of posing any threat on attack exception for the foraging of striker and danger man Josh Smith, said McGrath.

Just when the game appeared to be stuck in a stalemate a moment of brilliance from TT's English pro Saul Halpin resulted in a penalty kick being awarded. The talented striker beat two defenders and was clipped by a recovering defender as he was about to cross the ball.

The penalty was converted by Hall to give TT a deserved 1-0 lead.

"The rest of the game produced some good moments of attacking play that saw both Dommie Squatriti and Halpin go close to extending the lead and Vinnie Sharp squandered an excellent chance to pull the trigger from a great run into the box, but opted to pass the ball instead of shooting at goal," McGrath said

"It was a controlled performance and a comfortable victory. "We didn't play at our best, we have played better this season, but a clean sheet has been a rarity this season and I don't think we have won 1-0 in any game.

McGrath said he was thrilled with the victory against what is a good side and away from home.

He said the dominance of TT on the game was reflected by goalkeeper Nick Walker only having to make two routine saves in the 90 minutes.

For Wanganui Athletic it was their first defeat of the season.

Team Taranaki can now sit back and wait for Wanganui Athletic whether they will proceed to play in the league promotion play-off games for a spot in the Central League. If they don't there could be a chance that TT will be offered the opportunity.

Taranaki Daily News