Frus­tra­tion as lead slips for lost re­sult

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By DAVID WRIGHT

Toko­roa soc­cer ti­tle hopes took a se­vere dive on Satur­day when Toko­roa, who were ahead by two goals to nil at half­time, con­ceded two sec­ond-half goals in a frus­trat­ing match at Strath­more Park.

Mean­while Toko­roa’s clos­est ri­vals for the ti­tle, Melville from Hamil­ton, made it 12 wins on the trot when they made the tricky trip to Waihi and won 3-0. With one game to go Toko­roa must win this week against Te Awa­mutu and hope Melville lose at home against Foss on Satur­day.

Toko­roa started slowly and some­what against the run of play took the lead in the 21st minute when Chris Teague fed a per­fect pass to Des Phillips, who fin­ished with aplomb when he lobbed the goal­keeper who had come off his line.

Shortly after, Toko­roa hit the post from a cor­ner when Dean Tereru won a pow­er­ful header.

In the 34th minute a mis­take by the Claude­lands de­fence handed striker Michael Fitzger­ald a chance and he made no mis­take to give Toko­roa the sec­ond goal and seem­ingly the safety net they wanted.

But after half­time Toko­roa seemed slug­gish and tense and seemed to miss the dom­i­nat­ing and calm­ing ef­fect of cap­tain Gareth Wil­liams out with a groin strain.

Claude­lands started to gain a foothold in the match with some neat pos­ses­sion in mid­field, then in the 64th minute from a raid down the right their striker got in a shot at goal and again keeper ‘Zack the man’ looked to have it cov­ered but it spilled out of his hands and in the back of the net for a soft goal to make it 2-1. Toko­roa seemed rat­tled but replied straight away when Michael Fitzger­ald saw his shot hit the post.

Then came the killer blow when in the 83rd minute a cross from the right was met with a spec­u­la­tive over­head kick that bounced the ball on to the Toko­roa bar and dropped down on to the goal line where the Claude­lands striker could not quite be­lieve his luck for a sim­ple tap in for 2-2.

Toko­roa pushed for­ward in a des­per­ate at­tempt to right the ship and were nearly re­warded when Des Philipps broke free in in­jury time with just the keeper to beat but took too long and the chance was lost.

From the re­bound the Claude­lands’ de­fence cleared off the line, game over.

Toko­roa coach David Wright was dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult.

‘‘We let them back in the game which is not like us but we will keep go­ing un­til the last game and give it our best.’’

He also said that even if the team fin­ishes run­ners up – and this looks like the case now – that he was proud of all his play­ers for their ef­forts this year.

‘‘I can­not fault any of the play­ers for their ef­forts, they are a spe­cial group of play­ers.’’

Toko­roa’s last big game of the sea­son is at home at Strath­more Park on Satur­day at 2.45pm against Te Awa­mutu.

‘‘Please come and sup­port the boys,’’ Wright said. ‘‘The play­ers need as much home town sup­port as we can get, it is not over un­til it is over, Melville are due for a slip up and we just need to win.’’

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