Wanaka beats league’s top Green Island

Pictured: Toa Roode on the ball driving through the midfield as skipper Van Hees looks on. Photo: Mike Finlay.

Two in-form teams clashed at the Wanaka Rec Centre in perfect conditions for a game where a Green Island win could all but guarantee them the league title.


Contrasting styles were evident as Green Island looked to play long from all goal kicks to find the robust Brazzier whose physical presence was a constant threat to Wanaka centre backs Thomas Van Hees and Allan Carmichael.


Wanaka looked to play shorter, more structured football, and work the ball through their talented midfield.

Wanaka edged possession as well as territory and threatened the GI goal with Steve Pleskun, Barry Grehan and Weston Bell all having shots narrowly missing the target in the opening 30 minutes. At the other end, Wanaka keeper, Britton Dowling, made a couple of crucial saves to keep the game scoreless. In the 40th minute, Grehan gained possession in GI goal box, and, as he turned and dribbled away from goal, an Island defender tackled him from behind resulting in a penalty to Wanaka. Grehan stepped up and showed his true calm character and beat the keeper and gave Wanaka a deserved lead.


Kris Kessell was then sin-binned when he tested the patience of referee Craig Smith.


Two minutes later, the GI Captain, Tom Milton, and Wanaka’s Steve Pleskun both received yellow cards as both teams lifted their intensity.


After half time 1-0 Wanaka, Wanaka continued to look for a second goal and it came in the 53rd minute when a left wing corner from Toa Roode was delivered to the far post. A GI defender’s attempted headed clearance looped up and found an unmarked Weston Bell who showed great technique to hit a first-time, left-foot volley into the roof of Green Island’s goal from 16 yards.


A top strike from a young player and, along with Toa Roode and Michael Gealogo, were all outstanding on the day.


Green Island lifted the intent again and finally started to pressure Wanaka, but looked for long balls and deep crosses too often, which Wanaka defended well.


Dowling in goal for Wanaka made a couple of crucial saves to keep Green Island scoreless, resulting in the final score of 2-0.


Man of the Match went to young keeper, Dowling, who continues to grow in stature and made crucial saves on the day.


Wanaka will travel to Dunedin to take on another top team, Roslyn Wakari, this Friday.


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