Mamulas go down to NZ

After a goalless first half, the Junior All Whites went ahead through Dakota Lucas, Marco Rojas and Andy Bevin to go top of Group B ahead of the Solomon Islands on goal difference.
Rojas, who had a breakthrough season with the Wellington Phoenix, made his presence known in the first quarter of an hour with a spectacular left-foot volley sailing just over the bar before setting up Cory Chettleburgh who squandered a good opportunity in front of goal.
Right back Ant Hobbs caused plenty of problems with his long throws but the Kiwis couldn’t find a way through in the first-half as the home fans grew nervous.
Solomon Islands striker Tutizama Tanito had a golden opportunity as half-time approached connecting with a nice cross from Toata Tigi but couldn’t squeeze his shot past the imposing Stefan Marinovic.
The home side came out strong in the second half and almost broke the deadlock on 49 minutes when James Musa’s header was cleared off the goal line.
Two minutes later Rojas played in Dakota Lucas who spun his defender on the six yard box and slotted the ball past Sila Seda for the game’s opener.
The Solomon Islands side, named the Mamulas after a native fish, almost had an equalizer moments later when Himson Teleda blasted his left-foot shot onto the woodwork.
Then on the hour mark Andrew Milne won his side a penalty, despite protests from the Solomon Islands players who thought Freddie Kini had made no contact in the tackle.
Rojas converted the penalty before setting up substitute Andrew Milne in the 68th minute for the team’s third.
Coach Chris Milicich says he was confident of securing all three points despite the Solomon Islands holding them in the opening period.
“There weren’t any nerves at half-time because I felt we were in full control. We looked more comfortable as the game went on and I’m happy with how we finished. The first hit out is always difficult but we got the win that we needed.”
In the three-team Group B, New Zealand will now play New Caledonia on Monday and can advance to the semi finals provided they do not lose by more than three goals.
“We had a look at New Caledonia on day one so we know what we’ll be up against. They’ll be fast, physical and desperate for the win but I’m confident we’ll be up to the challenge.”
Noel Wagapu was disappointed his side couldn’t keep up the same intensity through the 90 minutes.
“We came out strong and I was pleased with the way the boys played in the first half but unfortunately we couldn’t keep that up after the break. We had our chances but didn’t put them away.”
The Mamulas will now wait nervously for the result between New Zealand and New Caledonia to see if they will go through to the semi finals as one of the top two in the group.

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