We have recovered from a 1-0 halftime deficit to take a 2-1 victory over Southern United in our final ASB Premiership match of the season.
Tim McLennan’s first half goal had given the visitors hope of recording back-to-back wins but second half goals to Robbie Greenhalgh and substitute Jarrod Young got us across the line.
The result sees WaiBOP United finish the season in fifth place, which was a solid improvement on last season.
After the first five minutes which saw Southern ‘keeper Tom Batty called into action twice – the second of which denied Wade Molony from the byline – both goalkeepers weren’t regularly called on during the opening 45 minutes.
After his early chance, Molony caused issues for the Southern defensive, regularly driving at players and getting into threatening positions without being able to find the final touch to get his team in front.
Some effective Southern defending combined with shooting from the home side which saw chances hit over the bar rather than on target saw the game reach the 38th minute with both teams still searching for the opener.
And then it came – McLennan jinking onto his left foot and curling a nice finish beyond WaiBOP United ‘keeper Danyon Drake to put Southern ahead.
The home side had a couple of chances to level before the break but Craig Wylie’s cross flashed out the reach of Reid Drake while Chad Coombes fired over the bar from a corner.
Southern almost went ahead 2-0 at the break, but McLennan fired just wide on the half time whistle.
Early in the second half WaiBOP coach Peter Smith injected regular starters Federico Marquez and Mark Jones into the action and within 10 minutes the home side were level.
After Wylie had a shot from a corner tipped over, Greenhalgh was fouled in the box and the WaiBOP midfielder made no mistake from the resulting spot kick.
Two minutes later Greenhalgh almost had his team ahead, heading against the Southern woodwork before Batty did outstandingly well to deny four quick-fire WaiBOP efforts from Jones, Coombes and Marquez.
Momentum was now with the home side and Jones headed over a free kick he’d earned after a 60 metre charge before Marquez fed fellow substitute Young for the go-ahead goal with 15 minutes on the clock.
Southern came close to levelling inside the final five minutes, substitute Taylor McCormack rounding Drake but he couldn’t find a team mate with a cross which flashed across the face of goal and away to safety as Smith’s side finished the season with back-to-back victories.
After a first period where he felt his side were in control without having the score board edge, Smith said the second half improvement was pleasing.
“I think the first half we dominated possession,” Smith said.
“We spoke at halftime; we’re dominating the game but we find ourselves a goal down. So we said in that top third we need to be a bit more clinical and the quality of the ball needs to be that bit better and that bit sharper.
“To be fair, in the second half we had that cutting edge up front and we looked a constant threat going forward.”
Having been ruled out of the playoffs two weeks ago, Smith is delighted with the way the team has finished the season with only pride to play for.
“With a couple of games left it would have been easy to let it go but I think it shows the character we’ve got here, despite not being able to qualify for the playoffs, we’ve went and stuck another six points in the bag. It’s very pleasing from a coaching perspective.”