League title on line for Team Taranaki
Team Taranaki head to Whanganui for a winner-takes-all ‘‘cup final’’ match at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
The composite side got the win they needed to stay alive in the Federation Football league, coming back from 1-0 down at halftime to beat Palmerston North Boys’ High School 5-1 at Pukekura Park yesterday.
Team Taranaki remain one point clear of closest rival Wanganui Athletic on top of the table – their next and last opponent of the round-robin play.
With the Wanganui side having a game in hand, it now means if Team Taranaki win on Saturday they will win the league. The prize is a home-and-away playoff series against the winner of Wellington’s premier club competition, most probably Stop Out.
PNBHS opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Rhys Jones fired the ball past Team Taranaki goalie Nick Walker. Team Taranaki squandered 10 good opportunities with poor finishing in the first half.
A halftime rev-up by captain Scott Manson hit home and the home side came out firing, with five unanswered goals. First to strike was recent signing Kyle Graham-Luke, who locked up the scores in the 47th minute.
Striker Patrick Hay put them 2-1 up soon after and Peter Kelbrick followed suit, heading a free-kick from close in. Joining the goalscoring flurry were midfielder Johnny Fletcher, who had missed a couple of sitters in the first half. Hayden Murray added a fifth from a free-kick taken by Morgan Hall from 30m out that landed on Murray’s head before he knocked the ball in.
Coach Ian McGrath said Manson’s halftime pep talk was simple. ‘‘Either you go out and show some character, raise the quality of play and desire or your season will be lost.’’