Waitakere and Auckland picked up ASB Premiership victories
today but it was the explosive clash between Otago and
Manawatu that caught the eye with five goals and five red
Leaders Waitakere United remained on track for the minor
premiership with a comfortable 3-1 win over Team Wellington
in the capital, while Canterbury United surrendered a one
goal advantage to lose 3-1 to Auckland City.
But the story of the day came from Palmerston North where a
sedate opening half gave no warning of the carnage that was
Enduring yet another difficult campaign, YoungHeart Manawatu
fell behind to a penalty by Aaron Burgess just 11 minutes
into their clash with fellow strugglers Otago.
Otago then struck twice in five minutes midway through the
second half courtesy of Regan Coldicott, only for the game to
explode in a spate of red cards shortly after Burgess scored
the fourth from the penalty spot.
Alex Rufer - son of former All White Shane Rufer - was the
first to go on 75 minutes and he was joined by teammate Tom
Mosquera just two minutes later. Referee Nick Waldron then
sent YoungHeart's Dale Higham packing two minutes later for a
second bookable offence, reducing the home side to eight.
A solo run by YoungHeart's Suele Soromon resulted in Tom
Connor bringing down the Vanuatu international for a penalty
and earning the fourth red card of the match. Soromon scored
from the penalty mark but there was still time for Waldron to
send off one more player, Otago's Matt Joy.
Amid the mayhem, Otago came away with a 4-1 victory, their
second away win of the season, which condemned Manawatu to
last on the table.
In Christchurch, Canterbury's habit of squandering leads in
big matches continued in a result that catapulted Auckland
into second place and dropped the Dragons to fourth.
Things started well for Canterbury with Andy Barton's 14th
minute header, but that was cancelled out by Alex Feneridis
in the 26th minute. Daniel Koprivcic nosed Auckland in front
just after halftime and substitute Emiliano Tade sealed the
win with his third of the season near the end.
In Napier, playoff chasers Hawkes Bay United took advantage
of Canterbury's second consecutive defeat by thumping Waikato
FC 4-0 to climb into third.
The playoff picture has a lopsided look to it, with the top
four sides racing into the distance and the bottom four now
floundering nine points adrift.