The Wellington Phoenix U-20s have made headlines in the Stirling Sports Premiership today by upsetting the favourites Auckland City FC 1-0 at Dave Farrington Park in the Capital, while Eastern Suburbs moved to the top of the table after round five following a convincing 4-0 win over Southern United at home.
The six-time champions Auckland City FC, who got off to an impressive start to the season, dominated throughout the 90 minutes but were unable to find the back of the net thanks to a number of quality saves from Phoenix keeper Lewis Italiano. The young Phoenix outfit punished the Navy Blues in the 85th minute when New Zealand U-20 reps Sarpreet Singh and Logan Rogerson combined with Rogerson getting on the end of a ball and placing it in the bottom corner.
Wellington Phoenix U-20 coach Andy Hedge was pleased his side managed to keep their shape and their discipline to keep a clean sheet and then score on a late counter-attack.
"We knew we were going to have a battle today in terms of regaining the ball and not succumbing to the pressure they put on you," said Hedge.
"So over the course of 90 minutes we have probably not deserved to win the game. We have got out of jail, but we have taken our chance and they have had a couple of chances they did not take so we're happy with the three points but not the performance."
Meanwhile, Ramon Tribulietx was not happy to see his side lose their second game of the season, after they lost their opening game at home to Waitakere United. He said the past two weeks have been a tough watch.
"Our last couple of matches have been very similar," he said.
"A game we completely dominate and where we created chances but unfortunately we don't capitalise on them. Possession doesn't win games but we created so many shots inside the box. Maybe we have been training a lot and we are not as sharp as we should be."
Up in Auckland, newcomer Eastern Suburbs AFC continued their dream start to the season when they went top after five rounds with a convincing victory at Bill McKinlay Park. Armin Pasagic settled the nerves for the Lily Whites with a penalty early on before he doubled the lead shortly after for his third goal in two games for the club. The score remained 2-0 at the break but there was more to come from the home side in the second half.
All Whites defender Luke Adams, who came back into the squad in the OFC Stage Three Qualifiers against New Caledonia, headed home for a 3-0 lead. They saved their best to last with Fabien Kurimata going on a lovely solo run and delivering a strike from outside the box to make it 4-0 and a memorable win in front of their home fans.
Meanwhile there was plenty of drama at Porritt Stadium in Hamilton as Tasman United scored in injury time through Alex Ridsdale for their first win in the Stirling Sports Premiership.
Marc Evans looked to have done enough for Hamilton Wanderers to get a point when he came off the bench to score in the 90th minute. The home side opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Godwin Darkwa found space and ran at the Tasman defence, he went on to beat two defenders before slotting the ball home. Tasman United got back on level terms four minutes later. Tinashe Marowa was in loads of space out on the right wing and only had the keeper to beat before putting the ball in the net.
It remained 1-1 until the 86th minute when a defensive error from Wanderers allowed Ermal Hajdari the chance to pounce on a loose ball and put Tasman 2-1 up. It looked to be the telling blow before the final few moments delivered plenty of drama and most importantly, for Tasman, their first win for 2016 - 17.
There were also plenty of talking points down at Bluewater Stadium in Napier as Hawkes Bay United hosted the unbeaten Canterbury United Dragons.
The home side went down to 10 men early when Martin Canales was shown a red card after 20 minutes for a foul just outside of the box. But Hawkes Bay did not hold back and took the lead in the 76th minute through Saul Halpin. Canterbury poured forward in search of the equaliser and in the 80th minute they were only denied by a big save from Hawkes Bay's keeper Josh Hill.
A total of seven minutes of injury time were added and the Dragons used it to remain undefeated in 2016.
Stephen Hoyle scored a great goal in the 93rd minute to ensure they would travel home with a point.
"Personally I felt I had done my job until the 93rd minute or whatever it was," said Hawkes Bay keeper Hill.
"I managed to keep the ball out of the net for most of the afternoon, but it is always disappointing to concede in the last few minutes to draw a game. We are still growing as a team and we have grown a bit in the last few weeks even though we conceded late here it was a better performance defensively. It was a good goal in the end and you can't really knock that."
Up in Auckland, five-time champions Waitakere United hosted Team Wellington at The Trusts Arena.
Team Wellington, who got off to a slow start to the season, continued their momentum in recent weeks with a 2-0 win to underline their resurgence. Waitakere felt aggrieved going into the sheds when claims for a penalty on Dylan Stansfield were waved away. Ben Harris opened the scoring for the visitors in the 63rd minute when he rifled in a free kick from the edge of the area. Nicolas Zambrano came off the bench to finish the game for the defending champions. He finished on a fast break to make it 2-0 in the 93rd minute.
Team Wellington coach Jose Figuiera said it was important to keep winning after they lost their opening two games.
"It was a battle out there and we are pleased with the way we came out in the second half and we deserved taking the lead," said Figuiera.
"I was a bit disappointed that we hung on after taking the lead but delighted with the three points at the end of the day."
Figuiera was not surprised to hear that the Wellington Phoenix U-20 had upset Auckland City FC and expected more of that this season.
"We are seeing week in week out just how tough this league is, so it makes for an interesting few weeks ahead for sure."
Round six of the Stirling Sports Premiership begins on Friday with Southern United hosting the Wellington Phoenix U-20s at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Stirling Sports Premiership Round 5 Results
Wellington Phoenix U-20 1 (Logan Rogerson 86') Auckland City FC 0
Hamilton Wanderers 2 (Godwin Darkwa 12', Marc Evans 90') Tasman United 3 (Tinashe Marowa 16', Ermal Hajdari 86', Alex Ridsdale 90' + 2')
Hawkes Bay United 1 (Saul Halpin 76') Canterbury United 1 (Stephen Hoyle 93')
Waitakere United 0 Team Wellington 2 (Ben Harris 63', Nicolas Zambrano 93')
Eastern Suburbs 4 (Armin Pasagic 15', 34', Luke Adams 52', Fabien Kurimata 71') Southern United 0