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A Game of Two Halves...

Waihopai managed to surrender a 2 goal advantage to draw Saturday's Donald Gray Premier game with Southend at O'Rorke Park.

What appeared to be a slightly under strength Waihopai side started strongly and an opportunist strike from Chris Jones found the back of the net to put the away team ahead after 20 minutes.

No sooner had the game restarted, Southend equalised with Gerard Anderson appearing to walk the ball into the net after some very lethargic defending from Waihopai’s midfield and back line.

However, the home side didn’t cope well with the ‘roaming’ Jones who continued to cause problems for Southend’s back line, but it was young Israel Calder who popped up in the middle of the box to cooly head home from a corner to put the visitors back ahead. Not bad considering he was one of the smallest on the park, must have been the red bull before the game……maybe it does give you wings?

Despite some neat passing from the back, Southend struggled to get anything from the first half, and  indeed ended up picking the ball out the net for a third time just before the whistle. It was Jones again, who seemed to be enjoying himself at this stage as he sweetly lobbed the keeper from a good 20 yards to put the visitors up 3-1 as the half came to a close.

If Waihopai started strongly in the first half, then Southend’s start to the second half can only described as ‘Samson Like’, they came out the blocks like Usain Bolt after a vindaloo. It was a pace that was going to define the second half and not long after the restart Waihopai found their 3-1 lead reduced by one, and to be honest, I can’t even describe the goal as I think I was possibly still having my half time orange!!

Southend continued their onslaught and a couple of mistimed substitutions did nothing to help the Waihopai cause. They continued to struggle with the pace of the game, but to their credit defended doggedly but unfortunately could not prevent the inevitable. A free kick was conceded on the edge of the area and a faultless delivery by Southend’s Paul Berry saw Shane Harper retrieving the ball from the onion bag for a third time. Waihopai continued to weather the storm and would've been glad to hear the final whistle to claim the point.

However, the game was not without its controversy. It was said the referee had a good game but you have to question the amount of late challenges that went unnoticed by the official. This maybe part of Southend’s game but to be honest I thought they were a better team than that. They played some excellent football and passed the ball well but when they were not in possession they proceeded to hack, kick and punch their way back into possession. I don’t mind playing a contact sport, but I draw the line at being assaulted every time I have the ball. Some may call it sour grapes, but it's way I saw it.

Anyway, rant over and we prepare to try and build on what was an excellent 45 minutes of football. We’ll be back in training on Tuesday and do what it takes to extend that 45 minutes to 90 minutes. We host Old Boys on the Saturday so we hope to be back to winning ways at home.  

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