Defence key as Southern earns vital three points

Danny Furlong (10) is celebrates with Sam Carmichael (obscured) and Danny Ledwith (6) after...
Danny Furlong (10) is celebrates with Sam Carmichael (obscured) and Danny Ledwith (6) after scoring to give Southern United the lead in its win over Waitakere United at Sunnyvale Park yesterday. Photo: Linda Robertson
A gutsy performance has enabled Southern United to claim a huge three points.

It held out Waitakere United in an immense defensive performance to take a 1-0 win at Sunnyvale Park yesterday.

The win was Southern’s second against the traditional powerhouse this season and  moves it to 15 points, one behind Waitakere and Hawke’s Bay United.

Danny Furlong scored the goal in the 85th minute.

He secured a penalty after being taken down in the box by goalkeeper Josh Djikstra while chasing a ball behind the defence.

The decision proved unpopular with the Waitakere players, although Furlong did not seem to notice.

He calmly stepped up and slotted the goal in the bottom left corner, his third against Waitakere this season.

But it was the defensive effort that set it up.

The team absorbed plenty of pressure in the first half, scrambling well when it needed to and limiting the visiting side’s chances.

In the second half Waitakere came out looking dangerous, before Southern began to hit back in the final 30 minutes.

The game opened up and chances started coming more freely.

Southern began applying pressure of its own and had several chances before Furlong was able to make one count.

From there willpower got the team over the line — and it needed a bit extra with five minutes of added time.

Every time Waitakere threatened, Southern swarmed to keep it out, the determination clear.

Indeed it was hard to pick a standout, but Stephen Last was a pillar of strength, while Tom Connor was into everything.

However, as good as it was defensively, it struggled to create anything with the ball and that was something coach Paul O’Reilly said needed to be worked on.

"It’s a massive three points for us because we came off a couple of weeks without being able to get a result.

"But I think if I’m being totally honest, that’s probably the best example of winning ugly that you can get.

"We defended really well, we were solid, we were hard to break down, they didn’t have very many clearcut chances.

"But we certainly have a lot of improvements to do in terms of in possession.

"So it is winning ugly, but every win counts in this league.

"So although we’re not delighted with the performance in possession, we’ll absolutely take the three points.

"Our spirit and passion got us over the line and we’ve had bucket loads of that this year.

"The lads got the reward for the hard work, but certainly a case of can do a lot better in-possession, and have done this year and got nothing, so we’ll take it."

O’Reilly gave plenty of praise to Furlong, who has struggled with injury and missed the past two games.

He said Furlong did well to live off scraps and felt the penalty was justified.

Despite the win, Southern remains eighth on the table, with Hawke’s Bay United upsetting Eastern Suburbs 2-0.

Putting together two good performances has been a problem for Southern and O’Reilly said that was a focus as it prepares for Canterbury United next week.

Canterbury will be coming off a win too, beating Wellington Phoenix Reserves 3-2.


National football league
The scores

Southern United 1

Danny Furlong 85’

Waitakere United 0

Halftime: 0-0

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