Match Day 18

 Western Suburbs 7 – Havelock North 1

WS: Elijah Just 18, Nati Hailemariam 25 (pen), 33, 49, Dalton Wilkins 35 (pen), Matt Garbett 76, 89

HN: Josh Murphy 87

 

 

Reporter: Tony Bissell

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Wests Formation (4-3-3) HN Formation (4-4-1-1)

Andrew Withers

Alex Clayton, Adam Thomas, Nando Pijnaker, Dalton Wilkins

 Marko Stamenic, Harry Edge, Dom Wooldridge

Matt Garbett, Elijah Just, Nati Hailemariam

Wests Subs:

Jaga Scott-Greenfield for Alex Clayton (46 mins) – Straight swap

Sean Bright for Adam Thomas (58 mins) – Straight swap

Ben Sippola for Elijah Just (64 mins) – Straight swap

 

Wests provided yet another high intensity and extremely entertaining performance against a valiant Havelock North team which was already assured of relegation.

Wests’ head coach, Declan Edge, made three changes with Dalton Wilkins returning from suspension, and starting positions for Adam Thomas and Marko Stamenic. Havelock North fielded an inexperienced side and adopted a compact 4-4-1-1 formation aimed at frustrating Wests and relying on the speedy Gagami Feni on the break.

The game followed the pattern of many recent Wests games as the home side dominated from the outset applying excellent teamwork and incessant high press tactics to create a multitude of good chances.

Dom Wooldridge, Elijah Just and Harry Edge all had early sighters only to be thwarted by Shaun Peta in the HN goal. Marko Stamenic then embarked on a mazy run and when his firm shot was parried back out to him, he unselfishly set up Elijah Just for the opener.

Soon afterwards, a superb 70-yard diagonal from Andrew Withers was perfectly controlled by Alex Clayton but he was denied by a last-ditch tackle as he bore down on goal. The second goal was not long in coming though and Marko Stamenic was again the architect. He played a neat through ball to Nati Hailemariam whose pace enabled him to reach the ball just before the HN keeper resulting in an inevitable foul and penalty. Nati took the penalty himself, confidently drilling the ball into the bottom corner.

Two quick goals then effectively sewed up the game. First, an incisive ball from the back by Nando Pijnaker led to a neat turn and pass from Matt Garbett to Nati Hailemariam who again assuredly thumped home. From the very next attack, nice passing from Elijah Just and Nati Hailemariam set Dalton Wilkins through on goal. He was upended, but like Nati before him, dusted himself off to convert the resultant penalty.

Wests had many chances to further extend the lead before half-time. Matt Garbett forced a great save from Shaun Peta after Nati Hailemariam had controlled another pin-point Andrew Withers long ball, and then Nati Hailemariam was close to completing a first half-half hat-trick when his effort from Alex Clayton’s cross crashed back off the post.

Nati finally snatched the match ball five minutes into the second half benefiting from a fine left-wing cross from Dalton Wilkins and a neat layoff by Elijah Just. Matt Garbett was next to go close, first stinging the keeper’s palms after being played in by Marko Stamenic and Nati Hailemariam, and then having an effort cleared off the line.

With the game safe, Declan Edge made some shrewd substitutions ahead of next week’s Chatham Cup semi-final. Wests continued to dominate possession and share the ball well, although the clear-cut chances dried up somewhat. Their patience paid off however with Matt Garbett driving home the sixth goal after smart teamwork down the right, and he almost made it seven with another firm strike cannoning back off the post.

Jaga Scott-Greenfield, Nati Hailemariam and Ben Sippola also came close to a seventh, before HN grabbed a late consolation with Josh Murphy converting after a goalmouth scramble from a corner. There was still time for Wests to get another though, and when Nati Hailemariam was fouled, an alert Ben Sippola took a quick free-kick to Matt Garbett who skilfully completed his brace.

Napier’s 2-1 win over Wairarapa means that Wests have to settle for second in the league this season. Havelock North head coach, Chris Greatholder, summed the season up perfectly saying that Wests must be the best team ever not to win the league, and should be applauded for not just their skills, but more so for the exemplary teamwork and work ethic that all of the players buy into.