A saved penalty at the death gave Tauranga City United a share of the spoils in their Northern Premier League game at Western Springs on Saturday.

Thomas Pamment was the hero, and not just for blocking the spot kick, after he had kept the Western Springs attack at bay many times.

"The last kick of the ball, they got a free kick and smashed the ball into the wall," said Tauranga coach Duncan Lowry, "and the referee believes the ball came off Raymond How's hand, when it came off his chest.

"He's given a penalty kick from the last kick of the ball and Thomas has pulled off a save. The ball fell to their centre forward and Cameron Grieve cleared it off the line and then put it over the bar."


It wasn't the only excitement at the end of the game. Western Springs broke through to score the opening goal in the 81st minute.

"Then two to three minutes after that, we got a free kick and big [Sam] O'Regan has hit one from 35 yards. He smashed it round the wall and down to the goalkeeper's left."

Tauranga could have snatched a dramatic late victory.

"Just after that, Andrew Cooper went through with just the goalkeeper to beat. He lobbed [it over] the goalkeeper and the ball bounced the other side of the post, then two minutes after that Jerahl Hughes beat the offside [trap] and looped a great ball into Colm Kenny who put it into the side netting."

Lowry said the game really was one of two halves; with Western Springs dominating the first and Tauranga the second.

"They came out of the traps quite well. They are a young side but they didn't really threaten us. At half time, even though they were dangerous, they were very quick and their movement was very good, it didn't really hurt us."

Both How and Dean Styles passed late fitness tests to take their places in the starting line-up. Western Springs featured ASB Championship side Waitakere United's Brian Shelley and former Tauranga Boys' College student Connor Probert.

Tauranga City now have four points from their two visits to Auckland; from an opening day win at Onehunga Sports and Saturday's 1-1 draw.

"If you had said that at the start of the season, I think everybody at the club would have been very happy," said Lowry. "It shows how far we've come when we are disappointed coming away from Western Springs without three points."

Next weekend's opponents at Links Ave are Bay Olympic, who sit at the top of the table with three wins from three. Tauranga City United sit sixth.