Team Taranaki concede late in final match of the season to draw with Napier City Rovers

Paul Cunningham scored the second of Team Taranaki's goals against Napier City Rovers.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Paul Cunningham scored the second of Team Taranaki's goals against Napier City Rovers.

A late equaliser from Napier City Rovers saw Team Taranaki end their Central League football campaign with a 2-2 draw in Taradale on Saturday.

The Taranaki side started poorly and gifted Napier an early lead within the first two minutes from a situation that looked like nothing was on.

A routine punt forward into the penalty area resulted in a defensive mix up and an opportunity for veteran Chris McIvor to steer the ball home from the narrowest of angles. 

Energyworks Team Taranaki recovered well and started to show more resolute defending qualities, leading to real enterprise on attack that created a very well taken equaliser from Sandro Grandi.

READ MORE: Team Taranaki eye solid final performance

Well and truly back in the match, the Taranaki side had a number of chances but were unable to grab a lead, heading into the break with the scores locked at one. 

The second half started much the same way, with Napier having possession but being unable to use it, while Team Taranaki remained more efficient and menacing on attack.  

Ever-dependable Paul Cunningham capitalised on some poor defending to steer home a Vance Hoskin free kick from close range on the 60-minute mark to fairly reflect the narrow margin between the sides and set up an enthralling final 30 minutes of the team's season.

The hosts threw caution to the wind and changed formations and personnel to go all out attack and Taranaki continued to soak up pressure and play on the counter attack.

Napier became more threatening in the final 15 minutes, but superb defending by the entire Taranaki side snuffed out every attacking moment.

With five minutes to go, Napier levelled the scores with McIvor bagging his second of the match. Team Taranaki held out a late flurry from their hosts to retain a point, but can reflect on a deserved win getting away from them for the second weekend in a row.

"Result aside, it was a very good performance under the circumstances of the limited squad availability, a long trip on the road and a full strength Rovers team that do not get beaten at home often," coach Ian McGrath said. 

"I'm proud of the performance on the day, satisfied with the season overall and pleased to have established Taranaki back at this level with deserved respect.

"The players who have contributed this season deserve huge respect and support for their commitment, attitude and ambition at this level of football. We have performed well for the most part, enjoyed a number of deserved victories and been competitive throughout.

"We can reflect on having the second best defensive record in the competition, beating some established teams at this level and enjoying some great moments like doing the double over Miramar Rangers, including that famous 6-0 away win at Dave Farrington Park. This is the highest level of performance by Team Taranaki at this level in an improved competition over the years."

 - Stuff

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