Northland FC held league leaders Takapuna AFC to a scoreless draw yesterday in the Lotto NRFL Division 2.
The resilient Northlanders executed their game plan to near-perfection. The only thing missing was a smash and grab goal that would have seen the North Shore side succumb to their first defeat of the season, but head coach Dan Johnston - who also completed 90 minutes at centre back for the first team - was very pleased with the performance.
'We worked very well in training this week on a deep block that was designed to protect the middle of the park and frustrate our opposition," he said.
"Everyone put their bodies on the line and worked towards this result. The lads are a credit to the club, and fully deserved the point."
Takapuna enjoyed the lion's share of possession, with the boys in blue content to sacrifice the ball in the opposition half and sit deep to restrict space to the Takapuna front three.
They lived dangerously for a while, but grew into the game in the second half and could have nicked it with a few opportunities late on as Takapuna pressed for an opening which left them exposed at the back from time to time.
Johnston said their defensive efforts were something to be proud of.
"People can say that we parked the bus and played for a draw - we didn't and at the end of the day Takapuna couldn't break us down," he said.
"Scott (Burgess) and Jonny (Fletcher) were incredible today, as well as Shane (Stanners) in goal. The fact that their players were a bit snarky at the end shows that we did a good job."
The games didn't go all Northland's way however, with D'Lane Martin rupturing ankle ligaments in the reserves curtain raiser, and Jordan Rudman blowing his shoulder out in the second half of the main event. Both are unlikely to play again this season.
The season continues next week against another North Shore team, Albany United at Morningside Park on June 24.