Wanaka AFC picked up their second win of the season with goals either side of halftime to Barry Grehan and Danillo Santana allowing the Wanaka men to make a perfect home debut. The 2-1 win over Northern AFC, at the Wanaka Recreation Centre, has WAFC sitting fourth after round three of the ten-team ODT Southern Premier League.
Wanaka greeted the men from Dunedin's northern suburbs with a perfect autumn day in the first home game of the season. With a full-strength squad at his disposal, coach Ian Bell set a well balanced lineup that quickly settled into the match. They looked to control possession and forced the winless Northern side to absorb pressure and rely on the counter attack. Good attacking play saw youngsters Toa Roode and Fletcher Cavanagh have early chances snuffed out by superb saves from the opposition goalkeeper. While the Wanaka back three calmly dealt with the pace of the Northern counter.
With the match still scoreless in the 35th minute, the visitors were awarded a contentious free kick 30 yards from the WAFC goal. The ensuing shot took a wicked deflection that lobbed over goalkeeper Britton Dowling and settled in the back of the net, to give the visitors the lead. They were given no time to celebrate however as WAFC immediately hit back through a deft, curling strike by Grehan following excellent build up play by wingers Weston Bell and Paul Hodgeson.
Playmaker Danillo was brought on at the break and within minutes found himself with a yard of space following a cheeky through ball by man of the match, Allan Carmichael. The Brazilian calmly placed his strike to the left of the Northern keeper from 20 yards out. WAFC now held a well deserved lead that they were eager to extend. They twice tested the structural integrity of the crossbar, first through a thunderous 25-yard strike by Alex Plimmer, and then by a towering header from striker Steve Pleskun that again cannoned off the woodwork. Fellow striker, Cavanagh, then went agonisingly close to sealing the win only to see his goalward strike scrambled off the line for a corner. The visitors, looking to salvage a draw, managed to force keeper Dowling into a few good saves but the defense held firm and WAFC came away with the win and a valuable three points.
It was a proud moment for Wanaka to host their first top-flight football match after a lot of planning and hard work in the off season. The result capped off a perfect day for the WAFC faithful. WAFC Director of Football, Thomas van Hees, also extended a big thank you to junior club members Cooper Norman, Harper Norman, George Murray, Logan Jolly and Nat Warburton who came down to volunteer as ball boys and girls for the day.
In Radio Central Football League Division Two action a well rested Senior Reserves side were outplayed by Alexandra B, losing 5-2. The two goals coming courtesy of an Ian Bell free kick and a Jamie Toomey tap in from short range.
In Division One the Seniors looked to continue their good form of the previous week but were rattled in the first few minutes by an excellent Wakatipu goal. With confidence shaken and nerves frayed the Seniors never really looked settled and were well and truly beaten 7-1. The lone goal coming from centre back Mike Finlay.
This Saturday's fixtures will see WAFC head to Dunedin to face second place Otago University AFC at 2.45pm. The Seniors host reigning Division One champions Alexandra at Wanaka Recreation Centre, with a 2pm kick-off, while the Senior Reserves travel to Queenstown Events Centre to face Arrowtown at 2.45pm.