Football: Otago United pays for poor start against Wellington

Team Wellington comfortably beat Otago United 2-0 in the ASB Premiership match played in Invercargill yesterday.

Otago was not helped by creative fullback Craig Ferguson not starting due to a recurring groin injury. Wellington dictated the first half and was 2-0 ahead by the 23rd minute.

Otago coach Richard Murray bemoaned another poor start and two soft goals, but Henry Fa'arodo would hardly agree, as the little striker found space where none should have existed in the Otago penalty area and floated an accurate header over keeper Liam Little.

The goal was just the tonic Wellington needed and against a jaded-looking Otago side, coach Matt Calcott's team attacked across a broad front.

Goal number two came from an Otago error and Hamish Watson accepted the gift and calmly slotted his side into a 2-0 lead after 23min.

Things might have become worse as with Otago's defence in shreds, Watson raced on to a long ball and hammered a strong shot goal-ward but keeper Little blocked unconventionally with his face.

As halftime loomed, Otago at last created a classic right wing attack that had Seamus Ryder drill a strong shot that rebounded off the Wellington goal upright and away to safety.

Ryder's energy and attacking runs were Otago's best feature in the first half.

At the break, Murray appealed for more energy and control from Otago and his players responded.

Ryder again got behind the Wellington defenders and feinted a cross before rolling the ball back for Scott Gannon, but the Australian's technique deserted him and his shot flew far too high over the crossbar.

Otago pressured several corners and long throws that created chaos in Wellington's goal, but steady hands from keeper Scott Basalaj and stout defending by Tom Doyle and Luke Rowe denied Otago.

With its two-goal cushion, Wellington stroked good passes around and alternated with some longer passes that stressed the Otago defence and had Little racing off his line to defend.

Otago upped the tempo as time ran out and sprayed shots by Victor Da Costa and Sam Mepham, but the final whistle brought down Otago's curtain.

Wellington coach Matt Calcott was pleased with his side's patterned play, and the quality of the goals that were achieved. In contrast, Murray was again disappointed at his team's soft start and could only point out the contrast in the second half when they competed well.


ASB premiership
The scores
Wellington ... 2
Henry Fa'arodo, Hamish Watson

Otago United ... 0

Halftime: Wellington 2-0.