Otago United won a bizarre national league match that
featured a spate of red cards yesterday.
The goal tally - five - equalled the number of red cards
issued by referee Nick Waldron as both sides lost their
Otago coach Richard Murray said the game was ''a strange
''We had several players missing, yet played some of our best
football this season to earn a dominant 4-0 lead.''
Missing from the Otago side, for various reasons, were Tim
Horner, Ant Hancock, Morgan Day, Joel Stevens, Tristan
Prattley (now with Waitakere) and Peter Evans.
Luckily, the Otago youth team also played in Palmerston
North, also winning 4-1, so there were spare players
Otago took the field determined to avenge a 3-0 loss to
Manawatu earlier this season.
It was arguably a normal league match until players lost
their discipline and referee Waldron entered centre stage.
In the last 15 minutes, three Manawatu players - Alex Rufer,
top scorer Tom Mosquera and Nathan Cooksley - were sent from
the field for various indiscretions.
Some indiscipline also hit Otago defenders Tom Connor and
Matt Joy, who were sent for early showers themselves, in the
There was much to commend the performance of the
under-strength Otago side, particularly as the players had
left Dunedin at 6.30am, reaching Palmerston North via
Christchurch, and faced a bus trip back to Wellington after
Murray said disciplined team shape allowed Otago to compete
well in the first hour of the game.
Seamus Ryder was fouled as he jinked into the Manawatu box
and a penalty was awarded. Aaron Burgess buried it to open
the scoring after 10 minutes.
Otago played efficient football, soaking up Manawatu pressure
in the heat, and replying with sharp breakaways.
Centreback Jude Fitzpatrick earned man of the match status as
he bottled up Manawatu's star striker, Seule Soroman.
Joy, Connor and Craig Ferguson showed top form, often pushing
forward to support their team-mates. In midfield, Ryder,
Victor Da Costa, Aajay Cunningham, Sam Mepham and Scott
Gannon won good possession and slid passes forward to Burgess
and Regan Coldicott.
As Manawatu failed to harness wind advantage, it was
Coldicott who pounced on a defensive error to make it 2-0.
Fifteen minutes later, Coldicott did it again with pace and a
Cunningham and Da Costa also made penetrating hit-and-runs
from midfield. Cunningham was fouled as he drifted past
defenders in the penalty area. Burgess calmly dispatched
another penalty for a 4-0 scoreline.
Amidst the flurry of red cards, team shapes vanished, and
Soroman scored Manawatu's token goal.
Murray, understandably delighted Otago scored its second win
of the season, could only stress the fact his side played
Otago United 4
Aaron Burgess 2, Regan Coldicott 2
Halftime: Otago 1-0.