Waitakere United proved far too strong for the champions of Vanuatu Port Vila today in a Group A O-League encounter, winning the match 3-0 but in truth it could and should have been close to double figures.
Coach Chris Milicich made a number of changes from the side beaten 7-0 by the Wellington Phoenix a week ago and immediately the influence and experience of Neil Emblen, Jeff Campbell and Paul Seaman was evident, as was the youthful exuberance of Kayne Vincent and Fijian international Roy Krishna.
Waitakere dominated the opening 20 minutes of the match playing into a strong wind at Douglas Field, hinting at things to come. With Emblen returned from a neck injury controlling the pace of the game from the back and Seaman and Chris Bale dictating terms in midfield, the home side looked composed and assured.
Port Vila were showing they would be a danger on the break however, but were also guilty of over playing things from the back, in doing so gifting Waitakere possession in dangerous areas on a number of occasions.
It was Seaman who opened the scoring in the 21st minute and he won’t get too many easier goals in his career, stooping virtually on the goal line to nod home a right wing cross that eluded the Port Vila keeper.
Fijian Krishna was into the starting side despite only arriving from Fiji on Friday and he too showed his class when scoring with an acutely angled right foot volley from 20 metres just before the half hour.
He soon matched his tally of goals from the Fiji v NZ international on Wednesday night with a glancing header as Waitakere threatened to run riot with Port Vila having not answers to Waitakere’s constant attack, in particular on each flank.
They did however hold out until half time with the score at 3-0 to the home side.
Waitakere introduced Solomon Islands international striker Benji Totori at the start of the second half but once again the fleet footed goal scorer looked out of touch, scuffing a number of opportunities early in the half, the easiest of which saw him head straight at the keeper from 4 metres after a great header across goal from Emblen.
Young Kayne Vincent was another guilty of wasting some energetic lead up work when the young striker blasted wide from close range after eluding two Port Vila defenders.
Waitakere lost their shape and their way a little in the second half, perhaps in part because of the changes but perhaps also due to being over anxious about improving their goal difference knowing they had already drawn with rivals Auckland City in an earlier Group A game.
Despite Richard Gillespie saving Waitakere blushes when he tipped Naprapol’s long range drive over the bar in the final minute, on chances created this could have been double figures. Coach Chris Milicich will be hoping that wastefulness doesn’t come back to haunt his side when the group winner is found.
Waitakere United 3
P Seaman 21st, R Krishna 29th, 35th
Port Vila 0
Richard Gillespie, Jonathan Perry, Aaron Scott, Tim Myers, Paul Seaman, Roy Krishna (Allan Pearce 57th), Daniel Koprivcic (Benji Totori 46th), Jeff Campbell, Chris Bale (Adriano 71st), Neil Emblen, Kayne Vincent
Samson Obed, Ken Masauvakalo, Moise Poida, Pita Maki (Jean Nako Naprapol 46th), Hubert Nake, Francois Sakama, Geoffrey Gete, John Garae, Michell Kaltack (Richard Iwai 63rd), Fenedy Masauvakalo, Andrew Chichirua (Alphonse Qorig 41st)