Football: City show backbone to secure point

By Stuart Whitaker

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Colm Kenny scored both of Tauranga City United's goals as they came back from 2-0 down to draw with East Coast Bays. Photo / George Novak
Colm Kenny scored both of Tauranga City United's goals as they came back from 2-0 down to draw with East Coast Bays. Photo / George Novak

The Hughes and Kenny Show pulled a point out of the bag for Tauranga City United after a team performance that was full of character on Sunday.

High flying East Coast Bays were the visitors and it looked like it was going to be a long day at the office when Judd Baker scored his and his side's second goal after 25 minutes. But the game turned into a pulsating affair with Colm Kenny and Jerahl Hughes at the heart of everything City did in attack.

While the opening chance fell to Tauranga's Mark van der Salm early in the game, it was the ease with which East Coast Bays were stretching the home defence that set early alarm bells ringing.

A slick move saw Baker given the space to chip Tauranga keeper Tom Pamment on 20 minutes and five minutes later the tall striker was virtually unchallenged as he headed his second from a corner.

Both sides were creating chances but East Coast Bays' were more clear cut and they took two of them while City's were missing the finishing touch that would open their account.

City went into the break 2-0 down.

"At half time I asked them to roll their sleeves up and play for themselves and for each other, and they did," said head coach Duncan Lowry.

He said a team has to show character to come back from a two-goal deficit, but it has happened before.

"For the first 20 minutes, I didn't feel uncomfortable - but you go 1-0 down you start scratching, and you go 2-0 down, then you start disbelieving in yourself.'

If Kenny and Hughes had been City's players most likely in the first half, they stepped it up in the second half, with Hughes constantly terrorising the East Coast Bays' right-hand defence and creating space with step-overs, fakes and changes of direction.

"I felt sorry for the little fullback in the second half," said Lowry.

Fifteen minutes into the half, the combination finally crafted a goal, Hughes toying with his defender before putting in a low cross for Kenny to shoot home.

Left back Cameron Grieve was becoming increasingly involved and Dean Styles also made his own contributions, but it was a determined run from Kenny, who powered through defenders, that saw him score the equaliser.

Both teams had their chances to clinch the win, although City were on the front foot for most of the rest of the half.

"We were one save from three points and one save from no points," said Lowry. "[Goalkeeper] Thomas [Pamment] has pulled off a miracle save at the end."

So was it one point saved, or two lost?

"You go through emotions on the bench - you go 2-0 down and come back to 2-2 and you're disappointed you don't get three points, but you're happy with one point. Saying that, from a spectators' point of view, from people I spoke to, there were those who said they would have been quite happy to pay $50 to watch it."

Lowry knows, though, that his side won't always get as many chances as they did on Sunday, and they need to convert more of them into goals.

"Big Colm has done ever so well - he held the ball up for us well - but you have to think to yourself, if we were taking [more of] those chances, we wouldn't be where we are now, so we'll be looking to do something about that [at training]."

City's next game is next Saturday away to Central, who currently sit second in the Northern Premier League.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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