Ngongotaha AFC's hunt for a first win of the season continues after the team went down 3-2 to Te Atatu AFC.
Ngongotaha were in the game, played at home on Good Friday, for long periods. They led 1-0 at halftime, but ran out of steam in the second half.
Te Atatu had a gilt-edged opportunity to open the scoring early in the first half from a free kick on the left-hand side of the field. The ball was whipped in and missed by everyone as it bounced and was heading straight into the goal, but a Te Atatu player, in an attempt to make sure of the goal, headed it off target and over the crossbar.
Te Atatu had the best of the territory and possession in the opening stages, but as Ngongotaha warmed into the game they began to look dangerous. Luke Barker and Harlem Simiona were the standouts, both calm and composed on the ball, they were pulling the strings in midfield.
In the 35th minute, after several chances had gone begging, it was Barker who opened the scoring. Simiona played a through ball down the left-hand side and the winger drove in a low cross for Barker to slide in and knock home at the back post, giving his side a 1-0 lead which they carried into halftime.
Te Atatu looked the more energetic side in the second half and in the 67th minute they were rewarded with an equaliser as striker Rhys Caples was put through on goal. His shot took a couple of deflections but bobbled its way in off the far post to tie things up at 1-all.
Minutes later Ngongotaha were made to rue their missed chances as Te Atatu's Rannesh Krishnan charged into the box and cracked a shot into the far side of the goal, giving Ngongotaha goalkeeper Andrew Gibbs no chance, to give his side the lead.
With 15 minutes left to play and already facing an uphill battle, the job got tougher still for Ngongotaha when they had a player red carded, deemed to be the last man as he took down an attacker outside the box.
With five minutes left to play Te Atatu put in a long ball which was just far enough into the box to cause confusion between goalkeeper Gibbs and centre back Cormac Waller. Waller rose to get his head on it but could only get enough on it to loop the ball over Gibbs into his own goal.
Ngongotaha reduced the deficit through striker Josh O'Sullivan, who rounded the keeper to score into an empty net in the 90th minute, to keep things interesting during stoppage time.
They were perhaps unlucky not to receive a penalty for handball in the dying stages as a Te Atatu defender appeared to control the ball with his hands in his own goal box. In the referee's defence, it was at such an angle that he may not have had a clear view of the incident, but the frustration was clear for the home side.
Ngongotaha coach Ron Cane said overall the performance mirrored the previous week, when they threw away a lead to go down 5-2 to Cambridge.
"We were in the game for such a long time, holding our own, then a little bit of luck that goes against you in terms of finishing just wasn't there.
"We created well, I was really happy with the creating. As long as we are creating there is always the opportunity that one day we will finish, those chances will go in," Cane said.
Te Atatu 3-2 Ngongotaha (HT: 0-1)
Te Atatu: Rhys Caples 67', Own Goal 85′, Rannesh Krishnan 70′
Ngongotaha: Luke Barker 35′, Josh O'Sullivan 90′