Compelling derby clash ends in a Tawa win
Tawa AFC and Western Suburbs wrapped up their Central League football season with the two battling out an entertaining derby on Saturday.
The 3-1 win for Tawa at Endeavour Park ensured they conclude the season a creditable seventh, on 21 points, their highest finish in three years at the top level.
Wests, meanwhile, completed a tough campaign one spot below Tawa. The final match was compelling for the neutral observer.
Jamie Sharp opened the scoring from a corner early on for Tawa, before excellent Wests striker Kieran Cripps converted a penalty early in the second half.
Late goals from Richard Bott and Mike Ramaekers gave Tawa the deserved win.
Coach Maarten Romijn says it reflected their great run of form lately, with four wins on the trot.
‘‘ Coming into the game the focus was to finish as high [in the table] as possible. We didn’t start well, but we settled into a good rhythm and defended well.
‘‘You get on a roll like we have and the confidence grows. The last few weeks have been great for the team.’’
With a number of frontline players overseas this year, it was a struggle at times to get good results and confidence in the squad, Romijn says.
‘‘ We’ve got the nucleus back next year and I hope we can do even better. It was enjoyable to finish the way we did.’’
Wests’ coach Lloyd O’Keefe, who had a number of youngsters playing on Saturday, says they were beaten by an ‘‘older, wiser’’ team on the day. They flirted with relegation at times, but he is happy the journey will make the first team stronger.
Detaching from Ole Football Academy has had its positives and negatives, O’Keefe says, but the base is there to progress.
‘‘My primary focus [in the offseason] will be improving the squad. I’m confident we can get back up that table and into the top four in the next two seasons. This year we dropped stupid points late in games. We just lacked that experience to close them out, but the guys have worked very hard.’’
The fact Wests’ second side was relegated from Capital 1 is a blow, he admits, but there are promising youngsters coming through.