Hekari United FC and the Morobe Kumuls FC fought out an entertaining 3-3 draw in their top of the table clash in Papua New Guinea’s National Soccer league this weekend.
Kumuls coach Max Foster said it wasn’t the desired result, however was able to put on a wry smile and mumble that they are still one up on the reigning champs.
Hekari were hungry to pay-back the 3-0 loss they received in the first-round and looked to have the match wrapped up when they led 2-0 at half-time.
Solomon Islander Jack Samani opened the scoring in the 23rd minute after pouncing on a deflection in the penalty box and then Andrew Lepani latched onto a ball handling error
from goal-keeper Dan Kutuapi to score their second-goal and make it 2-0.
The home-side was on the back-foot for the first time and despite numerous attempts from strikers Raymond Gunemba and Allan Kambais, they went to half-time with the two goal
The Hekari mid-field combination of David Muta, Lepani and flankers Benjamin Mela and Samani had control of the first-half.
The second-half however saw a dramatic change with replacements Edmund Lalo (striker) and Michael Foster (left-flanker) making an instant impact to their offence.
Within the first 10 minutes, the Morobeans finally saw daylight with their first goal from Gunemba to finally get a cheer from the crowd. It was the equaliser from Lalo a minute
later that put them in raptures with hope returning for a possible win. The home-side had the ascendancy from there with Sowera Guti, Ken Gule, Roniel Igins, Armstrong Peka, Gunemba, Foster and
Lalo applying mountains of pressure.
With 10 to 12 minutes remaining the match was suddenly called off. The referee was later corrected and play continued after a minute.
Despite the adrenalin rush from Morobe, a depleted looking Hekari managed to hit back with Lepani’s second-goal.
With all hope lost for the hosts, replacement Cherry Rauna was in the right place at the right time to head in the equaliser from a corner kick on the stroke of full-time.
After the match, Hekari team manager Vonnie Kapi-Natto voiced her concern over the incident where the referee said the break was a water break for players to cool down.
“This I believe stopped the momentum of our players to finish off the game properly.
“As far as I know the NSL does not provide for a water break,” she added. “This could have been the difference between a drawn match and a win,” she said.
Guti won the man of the match with three points, Mela two points and Igins one point.
Telikom National Soccer League Standings
|Inspac Rapatona FC||7||
|Hekari United FC||7||4||1||2||1||19||12||+7||14|
|Morobe Kumuls FC||7||4||2||1||
|Gelle Hills FC||6||4||2||0||1||9||8||+1||12|
|Welgris Highlander FC||7||3||3||1||1||15||
|Madang Fox FC||7||0||6||1||1||8||28||-20||1|