The Ngongotahā football team, playing in Northern Region Football League Division 2, are getting used to playing with their backs to the wall.

During the week their coach Ron Cane stepped down and on Saturday they travelled to Cambridge down on first team players and with goalkeeper Andrew Gibbs stepping up as player/coach.

Ngongotahā led 2-1 with 20 minutes to play when the game took a torrid turn. A Cambridge player collided with Gibbs after he had cleared the ball resulting in the goalkeeper suffering a severely broken leg.

Ngongotahā were forced to put an outfield player into goal and the Cambridge player was shown a red card, but his side threw everything at Ngongotahā in search of an equaliser.


In the 86th minute they had it when Kieran Hill took a quick free kick from just outside the box, catching the goalkeeper, who was sorting out his wall, off guard.

Earlier in the game Callum MacLeod had given Cambridge a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute before Yamil Casas equalised for Ngongotahā. Ngongotahā then took a 2-1 lead early in the second half through Hayden Booker.

Gibbs, speaking to the Rotorua Daily Post from a hospital bed on Sunday morning, said his side played with "that Ngongotahā heart" and deserved more than a draw.

"I t[The result] was probably a little bit hard on us. I was really pleased with the attitude of the boys, backs against the walls, missing some personnel and a bit of turmoil with Ron stepping down during the week. But, with everything against us we probably had the better of the opportunities.

"We were lifted by the presence of Ron as well, showing he is invested in us and being there. There were certainly no hard feelings about Ron stepping down, the boys all loved and respected him," Gibbs said.

He said Ngongotahā were "a little bit slow out of the blocks".

"As the game progressed, we certainly had the better of the last 30 minutes of the first half and then more than an equal share of the second half. Obviously the injury to myself and having to put a centre back in goal put us on the back foot a bit."

While Gibbs said it was disappointing not to get the win, it was important for the team to pick up competition points whenever possible if they were going to avoid relegation.


He will be out for the season now, but said the positive was he could concentrate solely on coaching the side and he had full confidence in back-up goalkeeper Josh Simpson.