Last gasp winner steals the derby (+pics)

By Ruth Dacey

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SUPER SUB: Sean Kim (left) celebrates Ngonotaha's winning goal with team mates Josh O'Sullivan (centre) and Harlem Simiona. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
SUPER SUB: Sean Kim (left) celebrates Ngonotaha's winning goal with team mates Josh O'Sullivan (centre) and Harlem Simiona. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

Super substitute Sean Kim's last gasp winner gave unbeaten Ngongotaha AFC a 2-1 victory over rivals Rotorua United in a thrilling derby match.

Everything was evenly balanced going into the game as both clubs had taken maximum points from their first five matches in the WaiBOP Premiership.

And it looked like it was going to remain that way with a minute to go with goals from Ngongotaha's Josh O'Sullivan and a penalty from United's captain Dayne Willemsen in the first half.

However Kim's late strike, which came after United failed to clear their lines from a Ngongotaha corner, kept his side at the top of the table on 18 points.

The Villagers dominated the majority of the game, and coach Shane Davis was extremely relieved with the win but admitted to finding it very "frustrating" watching on from the sideline.

"I didn't think that second goal was going to come. We put them under so much pressure and it was difficult to watch at times but finally we got lucky and were able to break them down," said Davis.

"They stuck to a game plan, of sitting deep and knocking the ball long. They still posed a big threat because they have great pace up front but today football won, because we played the better game.

"Sean popped up at the right time with a great finish and hopefully we can now go all the way in this league."

The current league leaders, who beat United in both fixtures last season, began the match at a frantic pace with Harlem Simiona having the first clear cut chance when he fired straight at the keeper after six minutes.

And when the goal came four minutes later, it was the mid-fielder who caused mayhem in the box, before it fell to in form striker O'Sullivan a few yards out whose shot looped into the net after hitting United defender Jaxon Dittmer.

The Villagers continued to probe and should have scored on two separate occasions when Connor Hinz and Luke Barker were through on goal, however thanks to heroics from United's second choice keeper, Jake Kitson, who was filling in for injured captain Andrew Gibbs, they stayed in the game.

United, who were forced to change their formation just before kick-off after inform striker Josh Cave sustained an ankle injury, rarely threatened Ngongotaha's defence with replacement striker and brother Ben Cave and Tawhiao Morrison looking very isolated up front.

However on the stroke of half time completely against the run of play, the Blues were awarded a penalty.

Amidst the Ngongotaha uproar, Dayne Willemsen confidently stepped up and buried the penalty to the keeper's right, sending James Towers the wrong way.

United looked more dangerous on the break after half-time and could have taken the lead in the 50th minute when Tawhiao was through on goal but he hit it straight at the keeper.

However the Villagers continued to be the more dominant side, hitting the bar five minutes later from a ferocious Alan Ferguson strike and having two opportunities cleared off the line.

At the end of the game United had every single player behind the ball, making last ditch tackles however their deep line was eventually what cost them.

Ngongotaha were so delighted when they finally found the winner, that player Luke Barker was yellow carded for removing his shirt despite not being on the pitch having been substituted for Kim 15 minutes earlier.

United manager Ian Walker was not too disappointed with the result as he said he was still working with a young and inexperienced side.

"They are a good team and deserved to win on the day. We knew it was going to be a tough game. It's always hard conceding right at the end but we have to move on from this," Walker said.

"The league is not based on one game and today was about showcasing a great game for Rotorua football."

The president of New Zealand football, Deryck Shaw, who is in Mexico next week for the annual Fifa Congress conference attended the game and was impressed with the turnout in the community.

"The game was played in really good spirit and was a fantastic spectacle to watch. I was really happy with the attendance as hundreds showed up," said the former Rotorua United president.

"The future looks great because today there were a lot of young guys coming through which is fantastic for football and Rotorua."

Results:
WaiBOP Premiership:
Otumoetai FC First Credit Union 3 Tauranga City United 0
Melville United 4 Waikato Unicol AFC 2
Katikati FC Ambria 0 Cambridge FC 2
Rotorua United 1 Ngongotaha AFC 2
Tauranga Boys' College 2 Waikato Stud Matamata Swifts 3
Old Blues 1SGS Papamoa 1
WaiBOP Championship
Otumoetai FC Reserves 2 Taupo AFC 4
Old Blues Reserves 1 West Hamilton 4
Whakatane Town 0 Waikato Unicol AFC Reserves 4
Te Awamutu Edmond Judd 1 Matamata Swifts Reserves 0
Hamilton Wanderers 4 Ngongotaha Reserves 1
Tokoroa AFC v Cambridge Reserves - postponed

- Rotorua Daily Post

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