Stuart Whitaker is a sports reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times and a general reporter for the Bay News.

Football: Coach backing City to stay in NPL

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Tauranga City United goalscorer Jerahl Hughes caught in a Glenfield Rovers defensive sandwich during Saturday's game. Photo / Stuart Whitaker
Tauranga City United goalscorer Jerahl Hughes caught in a Glenfield Rovers defensive sandwich during Saturday's game. Photo / Stuart Whitaker

Hindsight is, as they say, a wonderful thing - and with it, many of those at Links Avenue may not have rolled up to Saturday's game until halftime.

Tauranga were taking on fifth-placed Glenfield Rovers in the Northern Premier League without suspended Dean Styles and the injured Josh Nelson, replaced by Andrew Cooper and Conor Dunne respectively.

With the exception of a couple of fine saves from City goalkeeper Tom Pamment, there was little to get excited about in the first 45 minutes, apart from the fact that the home side had had more of the ball.

But the break brought a new resolve to City that was rewarded 13 minutes into the half when Jerahl Hughes was released down the left by a lovely Colm Kenny touch. Hughes' stutter step beat the covering defence and as he headed for the goal, 'keeper Keegan Inia left his near post exposed and Hughes pounced to hit the gap and score.

Glenfield pressed for an equaliser with Alex Feneridis and Kris Carpenter going close and Michael Gwyther getting the better of Tauranga skipper Ray How only for Pamment to get down to his right to save.

On 26 minutes, a foul somewhere near the edge of the 18 yard box was judge by the linesman on the stand side to have been inside the area and Gwyther stepped up to send Pamment the wrong way to make it 1-1.

For the final 20 minutes, neither side seemed prepared to settle for a draw and pressed to find a winner, Pamment keeping AJ O'Toole and Gwyther out and Darren White shooting wide.

For Tauranga, Kenny and substitute Logan Crawford both had shots blocked. Crawford also fired over and Kenny's spectacular overhead kick was saved by Inia.

With 12 games of the season gone, Tauranga City coach Duncan Lowry has seen enough this season to predict his side will stay in the Northern Premier League.

"We are playing against teams that want to win it but all we want to do is survive, which makes it tough, but if we pinch a point off top teams like this at home we will survive.

"It would have been nice to come away with three points, but if you'd said this morning we'd take a point from Glenfield Rovers, I'd have said 'yep, I'll take it'. Defensively the side looked solid, a feature of a settled back four.

"It's up the front we're not creating chances - and we just don't hold on to the ball long enough and calm things down."

Today at 2pm, Tauranga City United are in Chatham Cup action, taking on fellow NPL side Bay Olympic.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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