Otago bemoan 'coach-killer' goals as Dragons rule

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 19/11/2012

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Otago United coach Richard Murray lamented two "coach-killer" goals and a couple of refereeing decisions as the fatal blows in Canterbury United's national league derby win.

The Canterbury Dragons beat bottom of the table Otago 2-1 at English Park in Christchurch yesterday after two goals in as many minutes by Darren White and Bulgarian signing Dimitri Bayrev.

Canterbury coach Keith Braithwaite was relieved to "hang on for the three points" in an ASB premiership match marred by strong winds.

The Dragons should have won more comfortably but two players celebrating their 50th games missed excellent opportunities. All White Aaron Clapham - unable to use his chip-shot routine because of the strong gusts - sidefooted a penalty and had it saved by Otago keeper Liam Little and Russell Kamo's shot struck the post.

Meanwhile, Murray was miffed at his team's profligacy, and some key calls by the match officials.

"We've gifted a couple of coach-killers that haven't helped," Murray said.

"And we are just struggling with consistency from the men in the middle."

Murray, who said refereeing calls were "killing" Otago this season, "didn't see a lot wrong with the goal we scored at the end of the second half which got wiped out".

He also claimed Canterbury captain Dan Terris was "lucky to stay on the field" after pulling back Otago goalscorer Joel Stevens, who had skinned him for pace down Otago's left flank.

Murray was bemused when Mirko Benischke penalised Stevens instead of Terris.

Otago were competitive in the first quarter and had a "goal" to Morgan Day disallowed for offside.

White's intended cross in the 24th minute swerved in the wind and caught Little asleep on his near post for Canterbury's crucial opener.

Bayrev netted his first New Zealand goal when he cleverly sprang the Otago offside trap and kept his cool to lob a shot over Little in the 26th minute.

Stevens always looked Otago's liveliest attacker and supplied a lifeline on halftime.

Canterbury keeper Adam Highfield punched a corner out and Stevens reacted swiftly while the Dragons' defenders dithered.

Jude Fitzpatrick found the back of the net in the 89th minute but Benischke ruled he had fouled a defender.

Braithwaite said he had had "never seen so many [seven] yellow cards" in a game where "there wasn't a bad tackle".

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- The Press

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