Soccer: Tauranga attackers miss Mangere target

It was quite a bizarre old game of football at Links Avenue on Saturday when Tauranga City opened the new season against Mangere United.

The home team had much the better of the game, dominating the midfield with ease, and were rarely troubled defensively compared to what the Mangere defenders and goalkeeper were subjected to.

The corner count of 12-3 to Tauranga showed their superiority and their pre-season wins over Hibiscus Coast and Melville were reflected in the confident way they took the game to their smaller but lively opponents. So with all that advantage how did Mangere manage to win the game 2-0?

Simply, the finishing from Tauranga's strikers and attacking midfielders lacked accuracy and composure, and when they did get a shot on target, they found a very agile keeper in Kritik Kumar blocking the way.

In contrasting style, teenager Ernesto Lopez was a class above anyone else on the pitch and scored a goal in each half through his dazzling pace, ability to turn defenders at will, and a blistering left foot shot.

There was no shortage of ball movement and tireless running from Tauranga, with Connor Irvine, Joh Allen and Nathan Farey all impressing. Young goalkeeper Simeon Clark cannot be blamed for either of the superbly struck goals and pulled off some key saves, after top keeper Tom Pamment broke his wrist last week.

The lack of goals caused some frustration in the Tauranga camp in the final quarter, with two yellow cards given against them, but the good news is the players do not have long to worry about Saturday's loss.

Tauranga host Claudelands Rovers from 2.30pm today at their Links Ave home in what will be a crucial match for the team, as they look to bounce back and get points on the board towards their season goal of promotion to Northern Region Division One.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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