Loaded WaiBOP United marked our final ever home game in the ASB Premiership with an entertaining 4-2 victory over the Wellington Phoenix at Mt Maunganui’s Links Avenue.
After an opening first 20 minutes in which the visitors threatened several times, we went ahead through a superb Sean Morris strike. The American midfielder found himself with a good angle 25 metres out from goal and he drilled his shot just inside the angle of post and upright, leaving the Phoenix goalkeeper Oliver Sail with no chance.
We drove on from there and saw leading scorer Stephen Hoyle help himself to a double inside the final ten minutes of the half. Hoyle had earlier had a goal ruled out for off-side, but his unerring predatory skills ensured his side went into the break with what would prove to be a match-winning lead.
Hoyle’s two goals move the WaiBOP United striker up to third in the Golden Boot standings with nine for season and he had another goal ruled out for off-side minutes after the re-start.
The visitors pulled a goal back twenty minutes into the second half via the right boot of Waikato product Logan Rogerson to give them a sniff but when Mario Ilich swept home our fourth goal with seven minutes left, it was game over.
Phoenix substitute Oliver Whyte finished neatly with two minutes remaining to give the visitors the consolation goal their enterprising play deserved.
WaiBOP United Peter Smith said the result was a nice one to get in their final home encounter with Morris’ first half screamer an important launching point.
“It’s quite a sad day for the club with things starting to come down but to finish [at home] with a win is pleasing for the coaching staff and the lads,” Smith said.
“Sean does that in training every session, he’s pinging stuff into the top corner like you wouldn’t believe. He’s an exceptional talent and he stuck one in the top corner from 20 yards out.”
“Going in at halftime was quite pleasing, it could have been more but we went in with the three and we were happy with that.
“We knew the Phoenix would come out in the second half and have a real go and we said the next goal would be crucial. We knew if we could weather the storm for 10-15 minutes and then reset and go again, and that’s really what happened.”
Loaded WaiBOP United 4-2 Wellington Phoenix (half: 3-0)
WB: Sean Morris 26′, Stephen Hoyle 36′, 43′, Mario Ilich 83′
WP: Logan Rogerson 64′, Oliver Whyte 88′
Loaded WaiBOP United: Zac Speedy (GK); Scott Hilliar, Adam Mitchell, Tyler Lissette, James Hoyle (Israel Whitley 69′); Mario Ilich (Cory Mitchell 85′), Alexis Varela; Sean Morris, Ryan Tinsley, Federico Marquez (Wade Molony 73′); Stephen Hoyle. Substitutes not used: Neil Achary (GK), Dylan Stansfield.
Wellington Phoenix: Oliver Sail (GK), Joe Bell (Oliver Whyte 84′), Liam Wood, Sarpreet Singh, Cherbel Khouchaba (Ruairi Cahill-Fleury 59′), Logan Rogerson, Tamupiwa Dimairo, Justin Gulley, Troy Danaskos, Joel Stevens, Louis Evans (Sam Philip 65′). Substitute not used: Marcel Kampman (GK).