Cen­tral stay red-hot de­spite red card

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - SAMHEWAT

Cen­tral United foot­ball club’s de­fen­sive dom­i­nance has con­tin­ued, de­spite be­ing re­duced to 10 men in their 1-0 win against Three Kings on Satur­day.

Cen­tral’s lone goal scorer, Ar­min Pasagic, was sent off in the 81st minute dur­ing the North­ern Re­gional Foot­ball League match, mean­ing his side had to work hard to keep their win­ning streak alive.

They did so suc­cess­fully, and backed it up with a 7-0 win over Waitem­ata in the Chatham Cup just two days later.

The Chatham Cup was formed in 1923 and is New Zealand’s premier knock­out foot­ball tour­na­ment, of­ten in­volv­ing be­tween 120 to 150 teams across the coun­try ev­ery year.

Cen­tral have now given up just five goals in an un­beaten patch that has ex­tended to nine games, while scor­ing 28 of their own.

In the past six games, they’ve scored 21 goals with just one against and are the only side to have beaten league-lead­ers Onehunga.

Coach Aaron McFar­land said both games on the week­end were a chal­lenge con­sid­er­ing the quick two-day turn­around.

‘‘Both games were very im­port- ant,’’ McFar­land said.

‘‘To keep the mo­men­tum in the league we wanted to win that game, but we also wanted to be at the top of our game for Monday.’’

Waitem­ata shocked the foot­ball fra­ter­nity last year when they knocked Cen­tral out in the Chatham Cup. That mem­ory proved help­ful for the United side.

‘‘There was a lot of mo­ti­va­tion to en­sure we did ev­ery­thing we could to beat Waitem­ata yes­ter­day,’’ McFar­land said.

McFar­land cred­ited the team’s goal­keeper, Danyon Drake, who had been be­hind most of the five clean sheets the team has ac­cu­mu­lated in the past six games.

The side will have only five days to re­cover this week as they face third-placed Glen­field away from home on Satur­day.

That be­gins a tough three­game stint where they’ll face three of the top four sides in­clud­ing sec­ond-placed Birken­head and fourth-placed Bay Olympic.

In light of the chal­lenge, McFar­land said that’s ex­actly what his team wanted.

‘‘If we’ve got any chance of win­ning the league, we want to be play­ing the teams that are above us to peg them back,’’ he said.

Their next Chatham Cup op­po­nent is yet to be de­cided.

PHOTOTEK

Cen­tral United’s Danyon Drake punches the ball clear dur­ing an NRFL match against Three Kings.

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