Season ends with victory over Queenstown

Nova Valintine Ruis eludes the tackle of a Rovers player before scoring.

Wānaka hosted Queenstown Rovers in their final game at the Wānaka Recreation Centre.

Wānaka had the experienced trio of Carmichael, Hodgson and Grehan returning to the starting 11 along with young goalkeeper, Britton Dowling.

The opening 20 minutes had both teams struggling to gain dominance and there were very few shots at goal from either side.

Queenstown was first to break the deadlock when they scored in the 30th minute. A deep corner wasn't cleared by Wānaka and a loose ball was pounced on by a Rovers’ striker who swivelled and volleyed into Wānaka’s net from twelve yards out.

The remainder of the half was fairly even and halftime came with Rovers up 0-1.

The second half and Wānaka showed more urgency as they looked to get back into the game. It was Queenstown however, who scored against the run of play when a through ball had keeper Dowling hesitate. This allowed the Rovers’ striker to get the vital touch to score passed the stranded keeper; 2 - 0 down after 50 minutes and Wānaka needed to show their metal. 

Barry Grehan gained possession and dribbled past opponents and released Pleskun inside the box to give Wānaka the goal they required to get them back a foothold in the game.

Wānaka now started to dominate midfield and it was Pleskun again who threatened with a run and shot which had Boccatis saving at his near post.

Wānaka continued to dominate possession and drive forward and got the equaliser they deserved in the 80th minute.

A left wing corner by Toa Roode was swung in and the first contact had the ball deflecting back across goal to an unmarked Weston Bell. He attacked the ball and hit a right foot volley which flew in off the crossbar from 14 yards out. This sent the team and their supporters into a brief state of euphoria; 2 - 2 with 10 minutes to play.

Wānaka were looking for another goal and continued to attack and found it in the 85th minute when Roode showed silky skills to beat players and then released Pleskun with a well timed pass. Pleskun drove across goal which drew defenders, enabling him to back heel to the supporting Nova Valintine Ruis. He found himself free in Rovers’ 18 yard box and calmly put Wānaka 3 - 2 up with a well placed left foot shot. Just rewards for Vali and Wānaka who were now threatening to score every time they drove forward.

Wānaka found the net again when a trademark Pleskun run left defenders in his wake and as he accelerated into Rovers 18 yard box he showed great vision to square a pass to an unmarked Roode. He hit a first time right foot shot low past Boccatis in Rovers’ goal. A confident finish from Roode who had a great game turning defenders inside out all day when in possession.

After 90 minutes and with four minutes of injury time to play Wānaka enjoyed the 4-2 score and the knowledge they had beaten big brother Queenstown but more importantly continued a run of five consecutive wins which will guarantee them finishing in at least third place.

A fitting end to a first long season for Wānaka Premiers in the Southern League. Read all about the whole season’s trials and tribulations next week in the season closing report.


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