United in two-goal fightback

Thistle come from a goal down twice to earn draw.

Thistle come from a goal down twice to earn draw.

DANGER INTERCEPTED: Gisborne United rightback Lucian Nickerson comes away with the ball, chased by a Napier City Rovers Seconds player. Nickerson had a strong game in United’s 2-2 draw with the Pacific Premiership leaders. Picture by Liam Clayton

Gisborne United came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with league leaders Napier City Rovers Seconds, and almost snatched a win in Pacific Premiership football at Harry Barker Reserve on Saturday.

Meanwhile, at Childers Road Reserve, Gisborne Thistle came back from a goal down twice to draw 2-2 with Eskview.

The results kept the Challenge Cup with Heavy Equipment Services United, who stay third in the league, and left Thistle comfortably in the top half.

Although they were only two goals down at halftime, United looked headed for defeat. Napier had gone ahead through goals in the 21st minute to midfielder Zac Madsen and in the 36th minute to rightback Nick Matheson. The Hawke’s Bay side looked sharper and fitter, and were playing the better football.

Their strength was in midfield, where Madsen, Stu Wilson, Steve Froode, Nick Yorke and Leyton Ross played a good passing game and worked hard to shut down the supply of ball forward from United midfielders Martin Garnier, Corey Adams, Dane Thompson and Josh Harris.

United striker Josh Adams got the occasional first-half chance but his shooting was astray, and the Napier defence of fullbacks Ethan Ladd and Matheson, and centrebacks Regan Cameron and Kaeden Atkins seemed to have the measure of United’s attacks.

But what a difference a halftime pep-talk — and a few positional changes — can make.

Three minutes into the second spell, Josh Adams burst towards the Napier penalty area and was brought down by Cameron, who was shown a yellow card by Hawke’s Bay referee Gordon Harris.

This was followed by the “sinbinning” of United skipper Kieran Venema. United player-coach Corey Adams had been sinbinned in the first half. The Pacific Premiership is one of the competitions in which the use of 10-minute sinbinnings for dissent is being trialled.

In the 53rd minute, United central midfielder Thompson was booked for a tackling offence, and 10 minutes later both sides made a substitution.

For Napier, Shae Bauerfiend came on for Ross in right midfield.

For United, striker Stu Cranswick came on for defensive midfielder Aaron Graham; both had already appeared that day for United’s Eastern League Division 1 team.

Graham had done a good job in his second game of the day but, two goals down, United needed support up front for Josh Adams. Josh Harris moved from wide left into central midfield and Malcolm Marfell moved from leftback into a wide midfield role. United went to a three-man defence, Venema sweeping behind Lucian Nickerson and Mal Scammell, with keeper Jack Faulkner backing up when needed.

Almost immediately, Cranswick was one of a posse of United players bearing down on the Napier goal as Josh Harris’s left-wing free-kick from 15 metres inside the Napier half beat everyone and curled in at the base of the far post . . . 2-1.

In the 70th minute, Cranswick shot from the edge of the penalty area, straight at goalkeeper Dan Robinson. A minute later, Corey Adams darted down the left, cut back inside and curled a right-footed chip to the far post, where it hit the base and bounced wide. A follow-up effort was blocked on the line.

In the 80th minute, Matt Adams came on for Nickerson, who had played a strong game at rightback, and Noy Paull came on for Garnier, who had also done well. But United were running on renewed enthusiasm, and that takes its toll . . . the subs added fuel to the tank at the right time.

Napier made changes, too. Jasper Vowden came on up front for Sam Slater, who had run himself into the ground. Vowden arrived at the game 27 minutes in, after his car broke down and he had to call the Automobile Association for help.

In the 85th minute, Marfell made a run down the left and fired the ball hard across the face of the goal. It seemed to have passed harmlessly until Paull met it at the far side of the penalty area and hit it sweetly . . . straight at Robinson.

Two minutes later, United got the equaliser. The ball bounced in no-man’s land on United’s left flank, 20 metres inside the Napier half. Cranswick and a Napier defender went for the loose ball, which bounced about chest-height. Cranswick busted through the challenge, took the ball towards the byline and cut it back to Josh Adams, lurking just inside the penalty area on the left. The ball bounced once and Adams hit it on the volley. Robinson’s palm could not stop the ball going in at the far post . . . 2-2.

Napier’s Keegan Sachs came on in the closing minutes for the injured Matheson and spent most of his time defending as United pushed for the winner. The game ended with United on attack, but a draw was about the right result.

Corey Adams said his side showed a lot of heart.

“If we’d lost today our season would have been over,” he said.

“We’d have lost the Challenge Cup, and any chance of catching the league leaders, but now we still have something to play for.

“We talked about showing some heart — for the club, for our teammates and for the supporters — and we did. We didn’t get the win, but we definitely pushed them.”

Napier coach Terry O’Neill said United outplayed his side in the second half, but overall the teams had a roughly even share of possession and territory. He said his side showed a lack of experience in game management to give up a two-goal lead. Nevertheless, he felt United were among the most improved teams in the competition.

At Childers Road Reserve, Thistle fell a goal behind to Eskview afer 24 minutes, when striker Bradley Perks scored for the Hawke’s Bay side.

The Jags hit back soon after, attacking midfielder David Ure feeding the ball in to striker Hector Araya, who got past two players and slotted his shot past the keeper from six metres.

Sam Murphy — a centreback turning out in central midfield — put Eskview ahead again 10 minutes into the second half, only for Thistle central midfielder Sam Hogan to equalise eight minutes later.

Hogan had come off the bench only five minute before, replacing leftback Max Mika. Ander Batarrita moved from defensive midfield to leftback, and Hogan went into midfield.

Thistle coach Garrett Blair said he thought his side might have been a little complacent after a string of good results, but they were still unbeaten at home.

“Full credit to Eskview; they gave us a good test,” he said.

“But we should be winning these games if we want to give ourselves a chance of a good league finish.”

Blair said he was especially pleased with the work of frontrunners Sam Patterson and Araya, and double centrebacks Eliki Ravosai and Chris Spurr. Ravosai had made an immediate impact in defence and Spurr was having a great season, as was goalkeeper Mark Baple.

Eskview coach Jimmy Calder said he was happy with the result, and at times he thought the game was theirs for the taking.

He made special mention of striker Morgan McLellan and leftback Adam McFarlane.

Gisborne United came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with league leaders Napier City Rovers Seconds, and almost snatched a win in Pacific Premiership football at Harry Barker Reserve on Saturday.

Meanwhile, at Childers Road Reserve, Gisborne Thistle came back from a goal down twice to draw 2-2 with Eskview.

The results kept the Challenge Cup with Heavy Equipment Services United, who stay third in the league, and left Thistle comfortably in the top half.

Although they were only two goals down at halftime, United looked headed for defeat. Napier had gone ahead through goals in the 21st minute to midfielder Zac Madsen and in the 36th minute to rightback Nick Matheson. The Hawke’s Bay side looked sharper and fitter, and were playing the better football.

Their strength was in midfield, where Madsen, Stu Wilson, Steve Froode, Nick Yorke and Leyton Ross played a good passing game and worked hard to shut down the supply of ball forward from United midfielders Martin Garnier, Corey Adams, Dane Thompson and Josh Harris.

United striker Josh Adams got the occasional first-half chance but his shooting was astray, and the Napier defence of fullbacks Ethan Ladd and Matheson, and centrebacks Regan Cameron and Kaeden Atkins seemed to have the measure of United’s attacks.

But what a difference a halftime pep-talk — and a few positional changes — can make.

Three minutes into the second spell, Josh Adams burst towards the Napier penalty area and was brought down by Cameron, who was shown a yellow card by Hawke’s Bay referee Gordon Harris.

This was followed by the “sinbinning” of United skipper Kieran Venema. United player-coach Corey Adams had been sinbinned in the first half. The Pacific Premiership is one of the competitions in which the use of 10-minute sinbinnings for dissent is being trialled.

In the 53rd minute, United central midfielder Thompson was booked for a tackling offence, and 10 minutes later both sides made a substitution.

For Napier, Shae Bauerfiend came on for Ross in right midfield.

For United, striker Stu Cranswick came on for defensive midfielder Aaron Graham; both had already appeared that day for United’s Eastern League Division 1 team.

Graham had done a good job in his second game of the day but, two goals down, United needed support up front for Josh Adams. Josh Harris moved from wide left into central midfield and Malcolm Marfell moved from leftback into a wide midfield role. United went to a three-man defence, Venema sweeping behind Lucian Nickerson and Mal Scammell, with keeper Jack Faulkner backing up when needed.

Almost immediately, Cranswick was one of a posse of United players bearing down on the Napier goal as Josh Harris’s left-wing free-kick from 15 metres inside the Napier half beat everyone and curled in at the base of the far post . . . 2-1.

In the 70th minute, Cranswick shot from the edge of the penalty area, straight at goalkeeper Dan Robinson. A minute later, Corey Adams darted down the left, cut back inside and curled a right-footed chip to the far post, where it hit the base and bounced wide. A follow-up effort was blocked on the line.

In the 80th minute, Matt Adams came on for Nickerson, who had played a strong game at rightback, and Noy Paull came on for Garnier, who had also done well. But United were running on renewed enthusiasm, and that takes its toll . . . the subs added fuel to the tank at the right time.

Napier made changes, too. Jasper Vowden came on up front for Sam Slater, who had run himself into the ground. Vowden arrived at the game 27 minutes in, after his car broke down and he had to call the Automobile Association for help.

In the 85th minute, Marfell made a run down the left and fired the ball hard across the face of the goal. It seemed to have passed harmlessly until Paull met it at the far side of the penalty area and hit it sweetly . . . straight at Robinson.

Two minutes later, United got the equaliser. The ball bounced in no-man’s land on United’s left flank, 20 metres inside the Napier half. Cranswick and a Napier defender went for the loose ball, which bounced about chest-height. Cranswick busted through the challenge, took the ball towards the byline and cut it back to Josh Adams, lurking just inside the penalty area on the left. The ball bounced once and Adams hit it on the volley. Robinson’s palm could not stop the ball going in at the far post . . . 2-2.

Napier’s Keegan Sachs came on in the closing minutes for the injured Matheson and spent most of his time defending as United pushed for the winner. The game ended with United on attack, but a draw was about the right result.

Corey Adams said his side showed a lot of heart.

“If we’d lost today our season would have been over,” he said.

“We’d have lost the Challenge Cup, and any chance of catching the league leaders, but now we still have something to play for.

“We talked about showing some heart — for the club, for our teammates and for the supporters — and we did. We didn’t get the win, but we definitely pushed them.”

Napier coach Terry O’Neill said United outplayed his side in the second half, but overall the teams had a roughly even share of possession and territory. He said his side showed a lack of experience in game management to give up a two-goal lead. Nevertheless, he felt United were among the most improved teams in the competition.

At Childers Road Reserve, Thistle fell a goal behind to Eskview afer 24 minutes, when striker Bradley Perks scored for the Hawke’s Bay side.

The Jags hit back soon after, attacking midfielder David Ure feeding the ball in to striker Hector Araya, who got past two players and slotted his shot past the keeper from six metres.

Sam Murphy — a centreback turning out in central midfield — put Eskview ahead again 10 minutes into the second half, only for Thistle central midfielder Sam Hogan to equalise eight minutes later.

Hogan had come off the bench only five minute before, replacing leftback Max Mika. Ander Batarrita moved from defensive midfield to leftback, and Hogan went into midfield.

Thistle coach Garrett Blair said he thought his side might have been a little complacent after a string of good results, but they were still unbeaten at home.

“Full credit to Eskview; they gave us a good test,” he said.

“But we should be winning these games if we want to give ourselves a chance of a good league finish.”

Blair said he was especially pleased with the work of frontrunners Sam Patterson and Araya, and double centrebacks Eliki Ravosai and Chris Spurr. Ravosai had made an immediate impact in defence and Spurr was having a great season, as was goalkeeper Mark Baple.

Eskview coach Jimmy Calder said he was happy with the result, and at times he thought the game was theirs for the taking.

He made special mention of striker Morgan McLellan and leftback Adam McFarlane.

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