Round 4 Review

Western United rose to the top of the league table after edging Marist Fire by 2 goals to 1 in a match that statistically belonged to the latter. It was the only fixture played on Saturday as the Koloale v Real Kakamora clash was postponed in lieu of Koloale’s O-League schedule.
Western United took the lead after a hopeful ball from Nathan Kera beat Navusu Kitu who was too far out from his line. The shot was taken from almost 40 yards out and at a tight angle but it had the right spin to turn back in towards goal after escaping the clutches of the Marist Fire goalkeeper. Western United’s lead did not last long as Marist Fire’s Papua New Guinean import, Jay Kepi, made them pay for a defensive blunder to tie the scores at 1-all for the halftime break.
A lot of promise was shown by Marist Fire in the second half as they dominated Western United who lacked the support of their inspirational coach, Stefan Metanomski, on the sidelines. The effort from Henry To’o on the right was especially impressive and he repeatedly troubled the Western United defenders with his quick feet. However, scoring was a demon that Marist Fire failed to overcome and this cost them dearly when a Western United counterattack saw Max Ruku tap in a cross from Leonard Rokoto to make it 2 – 1 in their favour.
Marist Fire displayed a lot of character and control in the match and they had more shots on goal. They were even a man up after the 83rd minute when Kera was red carded but their statistical advantage did not give them their wish, their first victory of the season.
Both Hana and Solomon Warriors came of losses in their last league matches and were hungry for wins when they met each other in the second fixture of the round, Hana were beaten 1 – 0 by Malaita Kingz and Solomon Warriors shared a similar fate against Western United. For Solomon Warriors coach, Moses Toata, the instruction to his players was to channel Hana into the centre of the field and break them down there and that was what they did throughout the match.
“Hana have started the season well and we had to be wary or risk being run over. The only way for us to be sure was to keep them on edge throughout the match and I believe that worked well for us. My players effectively drew them to attack through the centre and this made it easier for us to defend against them,” Toata said.
Solomon Warriors were on their way after 10 minutes when Chris Tafoa set Kidstone Billy for a header that the striker hammered into the net forcefully leaving the Hana goalkeeper with little chance of getting to it. After Billy’s goal, however, Solomon Warriors were forced to do some defending of their own as Hana pushed for the equaliser.
The story was similar in the second half and it was until very late in the match that Solomon Warriors had their win secured. Hana utilised counterattacks effectively and they found themselves in good scoring situations a number of times but the finishes were either off target or closed down by the Solomon Warriors defenders. When Micah Lea’alafa and Jerry Donga struck with brilliant individual efforts in the 89th and 90 + 2nd minute respectively it was all over for Hana.
Hana coach, Rex Masuaku, said after the match that his players did well throughout the 90 minutes but at the end they lost concentration.
“We have ourselves to blame for this loss but I still think my players played well. We had many chances to score but we just lost composure when it came to finishing and this is one area we have to work on when we return to training,” Masuaku said.
For his counterpart, Toata, it was all joy and the win was described as a very important one which his team needed.
“After our loss to Western United in our last match we felt that we desperately needed to win as a loss would be too much of a cost. From here we need to continue winning and gather more points,” Toata said.
The last match of the round was shrouded by controversy as 2 refereeing decisions were called into question by both teams. The first was stemmed from a foul on a Malaita Kingz player that appeared to occur inside the penalty box but the referee reversed his decision to a free kick after originally pointing to the penalty spot. Just before the match ended KOSSA were fuming when a goal was allowed after the referee originally called for an offside.
Besides the controversy the match was no ordinary affair as six goals were scored in total with 5 coming in the second half. The first half was less lively and the only goal resulted from a defensive error on the part of Malaita Kingz. KOSSA midfielder, Phillip Ashley, was lurking when a flat pass went across field and he picked it up before driving to the 18 yard box where he went for goal to put his team in front.
The second half was an exciting 45-minute rollercoaster ride for the spectators and the afternoon downpour did little to dampen spirits at Lawson Tama stadium. Four minutes after the break KOSSA went 2-nil in front when Harrison Mala got their second of the day. However, Malaita Kingz scored in the 53rd minute with a header from Henry Temewale to reduce the gap and Hudson Kusilifu made it 2 – 2 in the 67th minute. Malaita Kingz came alive in attack and Jack Jethro was doing a lot of it on the right. However, KOSSA turned the tables when Willie Riqeo beat the offside trap in a counterattack to score a stunning goal with 9 minutes left on the clock.
The game seemed to be all over for Malaita Kingz when Charles Irobina levelled the scores in the 89th minute with the controversial goal.
KOSSA team manager and stand-in coach, Fred Osifelo was not a happy man after the match and he was raw about his disappointment.
“We felt that we were robbed off our 3 points by a dubious decision. However, this is football and we have to accept the referee’s decision no matter how unhappy we are with it but we reserve the right to make a complaint on the matter to responsible authorities,” Osifelo said.
At the same Osifelo also praised the efforts of his players and said that the team is improving with each match that they play.
“Overall I am happy with how the players played, they were able to stick to our game plan and this is what we want to happen. If we continue with this level of determination we will get the type of results that we want,” Osifelo said.
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