Frustration as lead slips for lost result
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.’’