Soccer: Waitakere advance to final despite loss

Roy Krishna (L) of Waitakere and Tom Schwarz of Canterbury contest. Photo / Getty Images
Roy Krishna (L) of Waitakere and Tom Schwarz of Canterbury contest. Photo / Getty Images

Waitakere United will play Auckland City in the national soccer league final for the fourth time despite losing 1-0 to Canterbury in the second leg of their semifinal tie in Christchurch today.

Waitakere, who beat Canterbury 6-2 in the first leg three weeks ago, won 6-3 on aggregate to end the home team's hopes of a second consecutive final.

Canterbury needed a 4-0 or 5-1 win to take the semifinal on the away goals rule but in the opening exchanges it was Canterbury goalkeeper Tom Batty who was kept busiest when he denied Martin Bullock and Ryan de Vries with vital saves.

Waitakere custodian Andy Ralph matched Batty with stops from Canterbury's Gagame Feni and Andrew Barton in an open first half. Canterbury broke the deadlock when All Whites midfielder Aaron Clapham converted a penalty on 31 minutes after teammate Russell Kamo was felled in the box.

A bruising second half saw referee Peter O'Leary caution five players with Dan Terris, Ryan Faichnie and Nick Wortelboer yellow carded for the home side while Bullock and Michael Gwyther joined Chris Bale in the book for the visitors.

Canterbury United had a penalty shout turned down just after the hour mark when Barton went down in the box and with 15 minutes left, referee O'Leary disallowed a Joe Murray goal for handball by Barton.

In a frantic final five minutes Waitakere cleared a goal-bound Barton shot off the line before Bale was sent off for talking back to the referee. Bale's red card means the former Team Wellington midfielder misses the April 10 final at Trusts Stadium in west Auckland through suspension.

It will be Waitakere's sixth final appearance in seven seasons, and the minor premiers will face an Auckland City side fresh from a 2-1 away win over Amicale in the first leg of the O-League final in Port Vila, Vanuatu, yesterday.

Canterbury United 1 (Aaron Clapham (pen)) Waitakere United 0. Halftime: 1-0.

Waitakere United won 6-3 on aggregate, advance to April 10 final against Auckland City.

- NZPA

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