League ti­tle on line for Team Taranaki

Taranaki Daily News - - Sport - Tony Bird

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.’’

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