Sunday, August 28, 2016
Alexis Varela :dyc:
Jama Boss :rc:
Franco Berti :g:
If there was ever a game to sum up the Hamilton Wanderers this season, then this game against Tauranga would be the one. The stakes were clear from the off, a loss would put Wanderers in serious relegation trouble whilst a win would bring them a massive step closer to survival. The squad itself was running thin as Bailey Webster and Jordan Shaw were both out suspended, leaving coach Shane Combers more selection headaches ahead of the big game.
The reserves had set the bar with a 3-1 win pushing Pete Davies' boys closer to claiming second on the table, goals from Raheem Hunter, Ish Boss and Lebon Bulamba had guaranteed the victory in front of a growing crowd of travelling support, led by Hamilton Puriri who had faith that Lebon would eventually score.
The senior team kicked off soon after and had started with intent from the off, Alexis Varela and Cory Mitchell were biting into challenges in the midfield allowing Tauranga little time to settle.
It did not take long for the opening goal, Sunny Singh played in a wonderful cross with a Tauranga defender left in a mess and tapping home into his own goal giving the blues the important lead. Henry Stephen had a well-executed volley from just inside the box go agonisingly over the bar, but it was clear that Wanderers wanted the job done early.
Unfortunately it just hasn't been that simple for Wanderers this season and early in the second half Tauranga were awarded a penalty and a chance to tie the game. Matt Oliver had other ideas however as he saved well from the spot kick before clearing the rebound as well.
The game became a lot more open in the second half but has been the Wanderers season, disaster struck with Jama Boss seeing a straight red before Alexis Varela received a second yellow leaving Wanderers with 9 men on the pitch.
The bad got worse as Tauranga were awarded their second penalty of the match and levelling up the game with only minutes to play. It looked as if it was all going to go horribly wrong for the Wanderers.
Man of the match Cory Mitchell who is so often overlooked, went on a charging run through the midfield which forced the keeper into an error with Wanderers awarded a penalty in the dying minutes.
With Boss and Varela both off the field and usual penalty taker Webster suspended there was a serious debate on and off the pitch of who would take the crucial spot kick.
Up stepped Franco Berti, with nerves of steel he sent the keeper the wrong direction and secured Wanderers their most important victory of the season.