Trusts Arena in Henderson played host to the Stirling Sports Premiership for the first time this season when Waitakere United and Team Wellington met.
While the ground is in West Auckland the weather was positively Wellington with gusting winds causing both sides issues and certainly not doing the capital men any favours.
The opening exchanges were dominated by the hosts and they edged the midfield battle throughout the first half, Dan Morgan and Tom Gray were particularly industrious. For the visitors, the pace of Andy Bevin and Joel Stephens was key as they looked to break early and get behind the Waitak defence.
The home side seemed convinced they should’ve been awarded a penalty in first half injury time following a challenge on Dylan Stansfield in the box but the referee waived play on.
Jose Figueira’s men responded well to whatever was said in the sheds at half time and came out with more intent than they’d shown earlier, they harried and hassled Waitakere in possession and forced turnovers but for the most part in turn gave the ball away as the match became a real arm wrestle in the middle third.
The turning point came when Team Wellington were awarded what looked to be a soft free kick on the edge of the United area in the 63rd minute, German import Stefan Thelen seemed to be trying to avoid contact and argued the point with the official. While the decision may not have been top draw Ben Harris’s freekick was exactly that blasting the ball into the roof of Pirmin Strasser’s net and leaving the Austrian custodian with no chance of making a save.
The final half hour of the game was a rear-guard action from Team Wellington as they sat deeper and invited Waitakere United on to them. Chris Milicich’s side probed away like Voyager 1 but ultimately could not find a break through and were eventually put to the sword by Nicolas Zambrano’s 93rd minute breakaway goal.
After the final whistle the home sides coach was at a loss to explain how his side had lost the match maintaining that much like the previous weekend’s match against Eastern Suburbs his team had dominated the game and made the majority of the play but had nothing to show for it.
Jose Figueira believed his side had just shaded a tight affair in difficult conditions. The result elevates Team Wellington to third in a tight league just a point behind leaders Auckland City while Waitakere United sit seventh but only 3 points off top spot.