Review of Round 1

The first match of the round was between Marist Fire and Hana and the teams first took to the field on Saturday 22 October. Unfortunately, Hana’s 3 – 0 win on that day was overturned due to a technicality so the match was replayed as a catch up fixture before the Malaita Kingz v Real Kakamora game yesterday. Hana won again but their victory did not have the command of the scoreline from their original match. Marist Fire looked like they were going to win the match with a fine flow of play coming from their midfield early in the game and continued with this throughout the match. A goalless first half ensued before Trevor Suinao livened things up with a strike from the left to give Hana a 1 nil lead. Hana’s celebrations were short lived because Richard Tolinao levelled the scores in the 81st minute and within 2 minutes Marist Fire were in front when Henry To’o broke through with excellent footwork and finished past Leon Fox. Celebrations were already starting in the Marist Fire camp when Remarx Kwaria clinched the winner for Hana in extra time.
Hana coach, Rex Masuaku, expressed after the match that he had his doubts in the dying minutes and was pleased his team came away with a win.
“Marist Fire played strongly and the match was in the balance until the final minute. We could have scored more if we took all our chances but I give credit to my players for not giving up to frustration despite the pressure they were under in the last 10 minutes,” Masuaku says.
The finalists from the last season were part of the excitement that got season 2 of the Telekom S-League rolling and a huge crowd turn up to witness their first meeting on Sunday 23rd October. Koloale were preparing for their O-League clash with Auckland City and were slight favourites but Solomon Warriors had other ideas. From the start Koloale were experiencing problems trying to break through the Solomon Warriors defence. The task was much more difficult because Solomon Warriors were not content only to defend and threatened Koloale whenever they had the chance. Neither side was able to get the better of the other in the first half and the crowd had to wait until the second half before they could witness any goals. Dennis Ifunaoa was first on the board when he picked up a long pass then fended off Leonard Olea before shooting past Eddie Ramo. Things went further south for Koloale when Micah Lea’alafa’s shot from the touchline sailed past Ramo and into the back of the net for Solomon Warrior’s second of the day. However, it was not over for Solomon Warriors as more than half an hour remained to be played. Koloale fought hard to get back in the game and within a minute of fulltime they scored when Benjamin Totori swung past 3 defenders before shooting home. However, it was too little too late in the match and Solomon Warriors held out to win.
Solomon Warriors performance on the day was about consistency and if they repeat this similar attitude to their game in coming matches they will be difficult to beat. The inclusion of Lea’alafa and Judd Molea in their line up has boosted their confidence in the midfield. Koloale underperformed in this match but they will be sure to pick up as the season progresses.
Placed third and fourth in the league tables respectively from the last season, KOSSA v Western United was always going to be a match to watch and their first meeting in the new season has not failed to disappoint. In all six goals were scored with the last coming in the final minute of extra time. Western United were on their way in the fourth minute when Nathan Kera turned home a long pass to give his team the lead. The goal shook the KOSSA defenders into action and they quickly closed up the gap that Kera used. Just before halftime KOSSA equalised through Hudson Felani who drove in from the left and fired past Izomo Bird. The second half was a see-saw for possession as strong defending on either side turned the fight from the defensive area back into the midfield. Franco Ne’e and David Ramosaea were key for KOSSA in the midfield and when Ne’e exited midway through the second half their control of the area also weakened. As the match reached the closing lap it came alive once again when Commins Menapi was fouled inside the box and he stood up to put away the penalty giving Western United the lead once again. Within minutes KOSSA levelled again when Harrison Mala scored a goal almost mirroring Kera’s effort earlier in the game. However, Menapi struck again twice to seal the win for his team.
Real Kakamora and Malaita Kingz were the 2 clubs that kicked off the inaugural season of the Telekom S-League in February. Malaita Kingz were the better side for many reasons on that occasion but this time around they were lucky to escape with a win after Real Kakamora staged a vastly improved performance. From the kickoff they chased Malaita Kingz into their own half time and time again with perfectly weighted passes but the opposing side patiently warded them off and replied with quick counterattacks when possible. One such counterattack provided the first goal of the match with Charles Irobina scoring from a through pass that he finished expertly with a curved shot past the goalkeeper. Two minutes later Irobina struck again to give Malaita Kingz a 2 nil lead going into the halftime break. Real Kakamora waited until the 80th minute before they replied to Malaita Kingz but it was all that they could manage and their opponents safely waited a nervous 10 minutes before the game ended.
Again it was Malaita Kingz’s defensive prowess that sealed their win. Despite the absence of Fanai Koti, who is now with Koloale, their backline remained strong and even had another star added in the form of Andrew Rarangia who picked up the man of the match award. Real Kakamora are definitely a better side and they are no longer the easy beats from the last season.
From the results it is Western United who top the table after their 4 – 2 win over KOSSA. Hana are in second place and they are followed by Solomon Warriors and Malaita Kingz who also got wins in the round.

Fixtures for Round 2
5. 5/11/2011 14:00 KOSSA v Hana – Lawson Tama
6. 5/11/2011 16:00 Koloale v Malaita Kingz – Lawson Tama
7. 6/11/2011 14:00 Solomon Warriors v Western United – Lawson Tama
8. 6/11/2011 16:00 Real Kakamora v Marist Fire – Lawson Tama

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