Solomon Islands representatives Central Coast FC have fought back from a goal down to pick up a 3-1 OFC Champions League 2022 win over Vanuatu’s Galaxy FC at an overcast Ngahue Reserve in Auckland, New Zealand.
Goals from Jeffery Bule, Junior Fordney and Clifford Fafale earned the Honiara-based side a crucial three points in Group A, despite going 1-0 down early after Kensi Tangis’ opener.
Central Coast entered this fixture knowing they needed a positive result, following their opening game defeat to Tahiti’s AS Vénus, but it was Galaxy who started on the front foot.
Tangis in particular threatened for the Vanuatu side early on, forcing a save from Central Coast goalie Phillip Mango and smashing a volley wide before his early endeavour paid off, the skipper bulleting home a close-range header after fine work from Joe Moses out wide.
Central Coast knew defeat could be terminal for their semi-final chances and responded well to Galaxy’s early dominance, Fafale being denied by Galaxy stopper Joshua Willie before Thomas Amasia dragged his effort wide.
That pressure finally took its toll when Galaxy gave away possession at the back, allowing Amasia to slot in Bule to hammer home the equaliser.
Fafale was then denied by Willie again, his effort tipped onto the post, before the industrious Fordney ensured his side took the advantage into the second period.
The Central Coast forward made a mockery of the height advantage of his markers, heading home from a corner to send the raucous Central Coast fans in attendance into rapture.
Galaxy pushed for an equaliser after the break but it was Central Coast who grabbed the crucial next goal. Fafale’s fine footwork created a yard of space in the box and he finally got the better of Galaxy ‘keeper Willie with a neat close-range finish.
Tangis, Andre Batick and substitute Jack Vira all tried in vain to claw Galaxy’s way back into the game but Central Coast held strong to pick up a crucial Group A victory.
Central Coast will look to secure their place in the semi-finals when they take on Lae City FC on Wednesday before Galaxy take on AS Vénus later the same day, knowing a win is needed to have any chance of advancing to the final four.
Central Coast FC 3 (Jeffery BULE 37‘, Junior FORDNEY 45‘, Clifford FAFALE 56’)
Galaxy FC 1 (Kensi TANGIS 13‘)