It was a dream come true for Jarrod Young, but a further harsh reality for WaiBop United.
The visitors to Fred Taylor Park on Saturday posed plenty of questions for Waitakere United in their ASB Premiership clash, but the hosts came up with the right answers in a 3-0 win which dropped WaiBop to sixth spot on the table.
Peter Smith's troops are beginning to lose touch with the playoff chasers as they often haven't been able to turn strong performances against good teams into points during the first half of their 2013-14 campaign.
WaiBop had the better of the first half against the defending champs but trailed 1-0 at the break, and still looked a decent chance to at least grab a point until they squandered possession to concede a killer goal with 23 minutes remaining.
Striker Sam French was the man who netted the first two for the hosts, before Young provided the coup de grace for Waitakere in the 87th minute with his first Premiership goal.
The Hamilton Wanderers youngster was determined to make his mark against the local side that initially overlooked him as a potential signing and did so after coming on as a second-half substitute. He capped off a Waitakere counter-attack by striking a lay-off from Dylan Stansfield from just outside the box with unerring accuracy past WaiBop goalkeeper Andy McNeil.
"I actually dreamed about doing that," Young said afterwards.
"Not exactly in that fashion, but I'd dreamed about scoring against them.
"I loved it. I loved every second of that, it was brilliant. I didn't think I'd get on, but I was dying to."
Young was a well-performed utility player for Wanderers in the Northern League Premier Division this year, comfortable at right back or in midfield and a quality penalty-taker.
However, that wasn't enough initially to attract WaiBop's attention for the summer league.
"They signed quite a lot of my team-mates, but didn't really talk to me at all," he said.
"So I called Waitakere and asked if I could get a go, and after that they [WaiBop] got in touch but I'd already made my mind up," said Young, who has shifted from Hamilton to Auckland to advance his football career.
How WaiBop could have done with a goal from anyone. Blunted by the absence of the league's equal top scorer in Milos Nikolic through injury, the visitors more than matched their rivals with their build-up play, but couldn't produce a cutting edge.
Jack McNab nearly marked his first start with an early goal, but his left-foot snap-shot hit the post instead of the back of the net in the 10th minute.
Two minutes later, WaiBop were caught out when left back Marcel Corbera lost an aerial challenge in a central position, and as they tried to cover, left room for French to nod in Stansfield's cross.
McNab was industrious and strike partner Maksim Manko dangerous pulling away from the Waitakere central defenders, while Mark Jones and Shayden Young often got around the back, but WaiBop couldn't fashion many strikes on goal.
Alexi Varela and Masaki Nomoto also made a fine fist of their midfield battle, but hopes of a meritorious away point vanished when skipper Aaron Scott was dispossessed outside of his own box and French made just enough space to smash an unstoppable drive past the outstretched leg of Tyler Lissette and McNeil's despairing dive.
While player-coach Brian Shelley and fellow centre-back Tim Myers dominant in the air, WaiBop still fashioned some attacking threats but they couldn't get a finishing touch that could have turned the game.
At some stage, WaiBop will upset at least one more-fancied side when the quality of their play is matched with a ruthless defensive display and a prolific striking effort.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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