Wellington Olympic have shot to the top of the Men’s National League — for 24 hours, at least — with an impressive win against Birkenhead United.
Olympic beat the previously-unbeaten Birkenhead 2-0, while Cashmere Technical and Wellington Phoenix both picked up wins to move into the top half of the table.
Here’s our round of games played on Saturday October 22:
Main photo: Cashmere Technical’s Garbhan Coughlan celebrates with team mates after scoring his second goal against Melville United.
Nine-man Melville squander chances in home loss to Technical
Little went right for winless Melville United when they lost 3-1 to Cashmere Technical at Hamilton’s Gower Park.
The home side created plenty of chances but suffered from an inability to finish, lapses of concentration in defence and two red cards.
Cashmere Technical paced their game well, content to wait for their opportunities.
Melville had their chances in the first half, through a Luke Searle shot that whistled wide after 27 minutes, and an effort by Oliver Colloty that forced a saved from Technical’s ‘keeper Danny Knight.
But the southern visitors broke through in the 38th minute when Garbhan Coughlan played a superb ball to the unmarked Jacob Richards who struck a vicious shot with the outside of his boot, into the top corner of the net.
As the half came to a close, Melville looked dangerous again, with Knight saving a Ryen Lawrence shot from outside the box, and then Colloty being unable to scramble the ball home when he got the ball unmarked in front of goal.
Cashmere doubled their lead in the 53rd minute after neat interplay between Coughlan and Lyle Matthysen, with Coughlan firing the ball home.
Melville pulled back a goal on the hour when Lawrence got on the end of a long throw-in to turn the ball into the net from close range.
A minute later, Melville were reduced to 10 men when substitute Campbell Brown mistimed a tackle and was given a straight red by referee Luke Gardner.
Coughlan stretched the visitors’ lead to 3-1 in the 78th minute when he was put through by Sam Lapslie. Keeping his cool, Coughlan gently lobbed the ball over the head of the advancing ‘keeper Max Tommy and into the net.
With six minutes to go, substitute Declan Tyndall forced a saved from Tommy, and Matthysen struck a shot just over the bar.
Melville’s cause was further damaged in the 86th minute when Searle brought down Kian Donkers, earning a second yellow card and an early trip to the showers.
Cashmere fully deserved the points and Coughlan’s double showed why national league defences need to keep a tight rein on him.
Impressive Olympic out-gun Birkenhead
Wellington Olympic laid out their credentials for a tilt at the title with an impressive 2-0 win against previously-unbeaten Birkenhead United at Whitby’s Endeavour Park.
Both goalkeepers had plenty to do in an entertaining match that produced plenty of near-misses.
Olympic had the perfect start when Jonty Roubos scored after only a minute. The goal was made by Jesse Randall who broke clear and slipped a well-weighted ball through for Roubos to run onto and smash into the net.
The sides were evenly matched for the rest of the half and Olympic went into the break 1-0 up.
In the 56th minute, substitute Samuel Mitrakas forced Birkenhead ‘keeper Silvio Rodic into a good save.
In the 61st minute, Jack-Henry Sinclair struck a shot that was deflected to safety off the head of Birkenhead defender Dino Botica.
The pressure was building and in the 62nd minute, Olympic got their second goal, when Sinclair hooked a shot high into the net.
Olympic spurned the chance to go 3-0 up when Kailan Gould skied a penalty over the bar.
Birkenhead showed fight, going close a number of times late in the second half.
They hit the post, had shots saved by Olympic’s Scott Basalaj and forced a series of late corners.
But good sides can withstand pressure and Olympic are proving they are exactly that.
Early red card opens door for first Phoenix win
A red card for Christchurch United goalkeeper Scott Morris after only six minutes gave the Wellington Phoenix an advantage they used to the full as they beat their 10-man opponents 3-1.
Morris was given a straight red after he was left stranded well outside his area and brought down a Phoenix forward.
Three minutes later, the Phoenix took the lead when Matthew Sheridan lined up a shot from 35 metres and hit it with controlled power to dip beneath the bar and into the net.
Phoenix first-teamer Lucas Mauragis — unable to play against his parent club Newcastle Jets in the A-League — made the most of his run-out with the reserves, causing havoc at times down the left flank.
He helped set up the second Phoenix goal in the 18th minute when the ball came to the near post where Ben Wallace turned the ball past replacement ‘keeper Edward Ashton.
In the 21st minute, Mauragis turned his defender and clipped a cross to the head of Kaelin Nguyen for the visitors’ third goal.
Against the run of play, Christchurch pulled back a goal when Mika Rabuka hit a thunderous shot from outside the area that soared into the roof of the net.
The second half produced some entertaining football but no more goals.
The Phoenix youngsters showed their technical skills but lacked clinical finish, while Christchurch United gave maximum effort and did well to compensate for being a player short for almost all the match.
Games played on Saturday October 22, 2022
Melville United 1 (Ryen Lawrence 59′)
Cashmere Technical 3 (Jacob Richards 37′, Garbhan Coughlan 53′, 77′)
Wellington Olympic 2 (Jonty Roubos 2′, Jack-Henry Sinclair 63′)
Birkenhead United 0
Christchurch United 1 (Mika Rabuka 25′)
Wellington Phoenix 3 (Matthew Sheridan 9′, Ben Wallace 18′, Kaelin Nguyen 21′)
Games to be played on Sunday October 23, 2022
Miramar Rangers (10th) v Auckland United (4th)
David Farrington Park, Wellington, 1pm
Auckland City (2nd) v Napier City Rovers (5th)
Kiwitea St, Sandringham, Auckland, 3pm