It might look like a one-sided result, but for 70 minutes on Saturday, Tauranga City held Auckland's Central United in the Northern Premier League.

City coach Duncan Lowry said the 4-1 scoreline flattered the hosts, with Central not breaking the 1-all halftime deadlock until the 70th minute.

Central took an early lead in the sixth minute, but Tauranga hit back through Dean Styles just two minutes later.

"That's the best team I've seen in probably three years at this level," he said of Central.


"When you look at it nobody realises how well we do, especially when the scoreline blows out - 4-1 looks bad, but for 70 minutes we held our own against the best in New Zealand.

"We've got to 1-1 and looked comfortable enough and I think in the 70th minute they've had a one-on-one with Raymond [How].

"Raymond's done ever so well with their centre forward and kept him on his left foot, but if anything he hasn't hit it too well, he's miskicked it and the ball sneaked in at the front post through Thomas [Pamment] who was disappointed he didn't save it."

Lowry picked out Central goalkeeper Daniel Drake as a significant factor, but not for his saves.

"He was a footballer all through his teens and then all of a sudden he wanted to be a goalkeeper, so they use him like a sweeper - as an extra man.

"And he's knocking balls 45 yards to people's feet or people's chests.

Central's unorthodox formation also caused the City defence headaches.

"They didn't play with a centre forward as such, but with a five-man midfield so there was a lot of running on to the edge of the box - a lot of unselfish running off the ball, so you have five players running at you until there's a hole created."

Good news for Lowry was the return from the bench of Jordan Culpepper after three weeks out.

"He's very comfortable and he gives us a bit of bite and a bit of composure."

The versatile Andrew Cooper should also be back training this week.

City sit 10th on the 13-team table with eight points.