Match Day 17

 Wellington United 1 - Western Suburbs 4

WU: Max Batchelor 14

WS: Matt Garbett 15, Nati Hailemariam 37, Dom Wooldridge 42, Elijah Just 62


 

Reporter: Tony Bissell

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Wests Formation (4-3-3) WU Formation (3-5-2)

Andrew Withers

Alex Clayton, Sean Bright, Nando Pijnaker, Jaga Scott-Greenfield

 Elijah Just, Harry Edge, Dom Wooldridge

Mohamed Awad, Nati Hailemariam, Matt Garbett

Wests Subs:

Adam Thomas for Mohamed Awad (54 mins) – Sean to 8, and Elijah upfront

Marko Stamenic for Nati Hailemariam (72 mins) – Straight swap

Ryan Feutz for Elijah Just (80 mins) – Straight swap

 

Perfect weather greeted the players at Newtown Park as Wests took on a very young Wellington United team knowing that they needed to win to keep their hopes of back-to-back Central League titles alive.

Declan Edge was forced into four changes with Callum McCowatt, Mikey Faber and Noah Billingsley all now overseas, and Dalton Wilkins serving a one-match suspension. The replacements all gave assured performances and whilst Wests were not as fluent as normal, they still ran out comfortable winners.

Wests dominated possession early-on with their forward line looking particularly lively. Good approach work from Matt Garbett and Mohamed Awad presented half-chances for Nati Hailemariam and Elijah Just but their efforts from long range were marginally off target.

Wellington United then took a surprise lead with their first attack of any note as Max Batchelor beat the offside trap and found the corner, giving Andrew Withers no chance. A disrespectful celebration resulted in a yellow card and a substitution soon afterwards as coach Paul Temple stamped down on the unsportsmanlike behaviour.

The WU goal fired up Wests and they were level within a minute when Dom Wooldridge and Harry Edge combined to set up Matt Garbett who produced a lovely curling finish. Chances then came at regular intervals for Wests with Matt Garbett and Nati Hailemariam both testing the WU keeper, and Mohamed Awad bending his effort just wide.

The go-ahead goal was typical Wests as Dom Wooldridge, Nati Hailemariam and Mohamed Awad hounded WU near their own box. The ball was stolen resulting in a neat turn and cross-shot by Nati Hailemariam which was unfortunately turned into his own net by a retreating defender.

Wests maintained the intensity and within 5 minutes they had a third, this time an outstanding 35-yarder by Dom Wooldridge into the top corner. They almost added a fourth on the stroke of half-time when Alex Clayton burst forward down the right but his powerful shot was turned aside by the WU keeper.

The second half lacked the intensity of the first. Wests still managed to create several chances, but a more compact WU defence restricted the opportunities to long range. At the other end, Adam Thomas was introduced and formed an imposing central defence partnership with Nando Pijnaker which rarely looked like being breached.

Elijah Just extended the lead with a 20-yard effort which appeared to deceive the WU keeper. Another Dom Wooldridge pile-driver then stung the keeper palms, and Matt Garbett was also denied late-on by a tip-over save, but the game meandered to quite a tame finish.

The result means Napier must secure at least a point in their final game against Wairarapa, otherwise Wests could overtake them with a win against Havelock North.