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On one thing both coaches agreed. No way was this a 4-1 game but Otago United had to accept that in the end that was indeed the scoreline as Waitakere United cemented top spot in the ASB Premiership.
Waitakere, stung early by a super defence-into-attack goal by magical 17-year-old Joel Stevens, had to battle their way back.
They equalised through a David Mulligan 14th minute tap-in six minutes after Stevens had opened the scoring and bagged just the second goal against Waitakere this season.
The home side went ahead 10 minutes into the second half as captain Jake Butler scored his second in as many games at Fred Taylor Park but it was not until the last five minutes they sealed the deal with late goals from Roy Krishna and Ryan de Vries.
"That's the story of our season," said Otago coach Richard Murray after his charges slumped to their fifth loss in as many outings. "We do well at times but then give up a couple of soft goals. We had a game plan which worked well early but we changed that as the game went on.
"There is no point in losing 2-1."
For long periods they kept a subdued Waitakere side at bay but eventually lost out to those late goals.
It was far from impressive at times with Waitakere's much-lauded line-up struggling to break down the gutsy visitors.
"Probably it wasn't a 4-1 game," conceded Waitakere coach Paul Marshall. "In the first half in particular, our passing was terrible and it wasn't until we changed our shape we got back into it..
"It was not the prettiest but we'll take it. We had to scrap, we had to fight," said Marshall. "Players like Roy Krishna and David Mulligan have to show us more."
A solid defensive effort led by Brian Shelley and Tim Myers was not matched at the other end of the pitch with too much under-hit and woefully-directed passing handing the Otago rearguard an armchair ride.
Elsewhere there were happy days for new Waikato FC coach Mark Cossey and Canterbury's Keith Braithwaite.
Cossey, handed the job few would have pursued, took his players to Westpac Stadium more with hope than anything else and came away 3-2 winners over YoungHeart Manawatu for their first points of the season. A stunning 18th minute Rory Turner strike set the Mooloo on their way. A minute after golden boot leader Tom Mosquera had bagged the 68th minute equaliser, Sam Margetts put Waikato back in front.
Adam Thomas stretched that to 3-1 with nine minutes to play before Mosquera closed the gap with his second in stoppage time.
The match of the day turned out to be a fizzer as Canterbury, again making most of home advantage and their artificial surface, scored two in each half to beat Hawkes Bay United 4-0 and leapfrog them into second place.
Aaron Clapham and Russell Kamo had the home side 2-0 ahead at the break.
The Bay were reduced to 10 players after 51 minutes when Cole Peverley was dispatched for a clumsy midfield challenge on Vladimir Bayrev. Eleven minutes later the hosts sealed it when Clapham converted from the spot after Kamo had been brought down. Dan Terris completed the scoring in the 73rd minute.
- Terry Maddaford of the New Zealand Herald