Second penalty ends Waikato's winning hopes
Waikato FC's displeasure with their treatment from referees this season didn't improve yesterday.
Waikato went down 4-1 to Team Wellington at Hamilton's Porritt Stadium in their ASB Premiership match, which swung on the dismissal just before halftime of home team defender David Parkinson.
The left-back had been booked previously for conceding the penalty that allowed Team Wellington to level the scores late in the first half after Waikato had looked the more likely side.
Soon after he brought down Henry Fa'arodo in an innocuous tackle that referee Matt Conger - who until then had excelled with the whistle - deemed worthy of a second caution, ensuring Parkinson headed to the showers before the break.
In the second half, Wellington took full advantage of Waikato's lack of numbers and a loss of shape to score three times in the last 30 minutes to consign coach Declan Edge's team to their third defeat in as many matches of the 2012-13 season.
"It changed everything really," Waikato FC skipper Sam Jasper said.
"It was pretty even for the first half and then as soon as that happened, we kind of went on the back foot," Jasper said.
His summation was accurate - while Waikato's second-half effort was poor and undisciplined, they had previously looked more than capable of picking up their first points of the season.
Jasper said he felt Conger may not have dismissed Parkinson had he realised he had already gone in the book.
"It looked to me as if he gave him a yellow card and then didn't realise he'd already been booked.
"By then he had no choice," the skipper said.
Waikato had a right to be aggrieved - the foul on Fa'arodo was negligible, and if Conger had been consistent he could have sent Wellington defender Andreas Damgaard off in similar circumstances for a minor second foul after being booked for a cynical hack earlier.
Edge complained last week of referees not allowing his side to play and Wellington certainly looked to try that tactic initially, with Damgaard hauling down Ryan Thomas as he tried to break forward and Cory Chettleburgh also earned a booking for doing the same to Parkinson.
The hosts should have been in front after six minutes when Rory Turner broke through on goal and chose to shoot with Sam Margetts free at the far post, only for Scott Basalaj in goal for Wellington to block his shot.
From the resulting corner, Ryan Thomas' shot was parried by Basalaj and Hone Fowler put the loose ball over from close range.
Thomas was prominent for the hosts and was also involved in the buildup to the opener as Waikato broke quickly from a defensive corner and when Eder Franchini was played in, he rolled his shot past Basalaj into the far corner of the net in the the 35th minute.
But the defensive errors that have plagued Waikato soon became apparent when a simple ball found Adam McGeorge in behind the back four, Parkinson hauled him down and Hamish Watson buried the resulting penalty.
Edge brought on Harley Tahau after the break for Sam Margetts but Waikato were too often outnumbered at the back and allowed Wellington to get in behind them when a better side would have been more organised and adept at soaking up pressure without the ball.
"We were still confident we could keep the ball, but when we got forward there were gaps left at the back," Jasper said.
"And some individual errors at the back cost us too."
The hosts could have regained the lead, but Turner was correctly ruled offside before finishing a defence-splitting pass from Thomas in the 49th minute and three minutes later, Thomas did superbly to beat two players and deliver a cross that Turner had to do better with than head weakly and too close to Basalaj.
Chettleburgh made them pay for in the 61st minute when Franchini gave the ball away and Watson created the goal, before Watson added another three minutes later and substitute Karsten Viborg settled the affair 10 minutes from time after another defensive slip-up.