Tuataras edge Alligators

A combination of holidays and the under-18 national tournaments left teams struggling for numbers this weekend.

It was no different in the premier men's feature game in which the Taieri Tuataras beat the Albany Alligators 3-2.

Taieri started more strongly and held possession for long periods,

It created several good chances but it was not until late in the first quarter it was able to open the scoring.

Striker Mat Deller was able to get behind the defence and beat the keeper.

Albany came alive following the score and, led by Josh Smith through the middle of the field, created several chances of its own.

But the ball continued to evade the last man in front of goal.

Just before halftime Taieri moved up the field and won a penalty corner which Nathan Gilbert converted expertly with a drag-flick.

It appeared an almost inevitability that the third-quarter push for Albany would result in goals and that was the case.

Its experienced players came to the fore and Smith converted a drag-flick of his own, before a second flick from Smith evened the score early in the fourth.

A thrilling last 10 minutes followed as neither side was satisfied with a draw.

Never giving up on the play proved the difference. A speculative forward ball was put through by Taieri and it appeared to have too much on it for anyone to retrieve.

But Tom Jolly put his head down.

As the ball approached the baseline, inexplicably the Albany keeper let it go without watching Jolly or the ball.

The Taieri striker was able to retrieve the ball centimetres from the baseline and slide it into the bottom corner.

In other matches, Kings United eased past a spirited Southland side, while the University derby proved a cracking game.

Two late goals to the Panthers got them a win over the more favoured Whales 6-4.

With just four rounds left to the semifinals, University B cannot make the top four and, barring a small miracle, Southland cannot, either.

The top three of Kings United, University A and Taieri are safe, while Albany needs only a single point.

 - Matt West

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