Scoreless draws under threat
WHERE have all the goalless draws gone?
Once upon a time you could turn on the wireless for the British football results and hear five different ways to read out a nil-all draw.
Not any more. Scoreless draws are rare.
Have we sacrificed the tension of a dour struggle that could be decided by a single mistake or flash of inspiration in our shallow pursuit of excitement?
Well, yes, probably.
It’s good to see that Eastern League Division 1 teams Sunshine Brewing Wainui Sharks and Heavy Equipment Services Gisborne United still respect the value of 90 minutes of football without a goal. Purists every one of them.
It wasn’t for want of trying that the goal drought remained unbroken.
United goalkeeper Matt Wotherspoon repeatedly foiled Wainui efforts to open their account.
Henri Campbell had a particularly good game at centre-forward but could get no change out of the United keeper.
Jake Theron — on for the last 20 minutes — hit a left-footed shot that looked headed for a top corner.
From nowhere, Wotherspoon got a hand to the ball and pushed it over the bar.
Unfortunately for Wainui, that might be the last they see of Theron on the field for a few weeks, as he appears to have aggravated an injury he has been trying to get over for some time.
Meanwhile, Wainui were keeping a tight rein on United danger-man Stu Cranswick.
With Wainui centrebacks Daniel Willock and Mal Furlan in joint-man-of-the-match form, Cranswick had a hard job finding room to create his special brand of mayhem.
United coach Chris Adams encouraged Cranswick and strike partner Aubrey Yates to move about to try to drag defenders into places they didn’t want to visit.
When Cranswick moved to the wings, it gave him more space and diverted attention from Yates.
Cranswick was well marked, but chances fell to Yates, left-flank raider Damon Husband and central midfielder Aaron Graham.
Adams said that on another day, at least one of the chances would have resulted in a goal, but on Saturday the shooting was narrowly off target.
“Wainui definitely had more chances, but we had enough to win,” he said.
United central midfielders Chris Cockburn and Ben Hansen worked hard to break up the Wainui passing game and support their own strike force, while Graham played a more consistently attacking role.
At the back, centrebacks Lucian Nickerson and Jonathan Purcell kept things tight.
Wainui were without two of their most influential players. Max Logan had become a father the previous day, so mother and son took precedence.
And Shane Hooks was serving a suspension for being sent off the week before.
Wainui have plenty of depth these days, though, and put together a tidy display of patterned football . . . they know all the bumps on that Wainui pitch.
Martin Brusco and Dan Torrie put in good shifts to keep the Wainui midfield running like a sewing machine, never missing a stitch.
United coach Adams and Wainui manager Blake Mulrooney said it was an enjoyable game to watch, played in good spirit.
In the other Division 1 game, Carpet Court Thistle Massive beat Thistle Youth 5-0 at Childers Road Reserve.
A Nic Somerton hat-trick was the highlight. Deep-lying striker Davie Ure and player-coach Craig Stirton, from the right wing, completed the scoring.
Ure scored first, with a breakaway and clinical finish after 15 minutes.
Somerton got his first after 25 minutes, and just before the break he beat two players before scoring his second for a 3-0 halftime lead.
Thistle Youth kept their clubmates from scoring again for two-thirds of the second half. Then Stirton received the ball from midfield and, from the edge of the penalty area, made an angled run to the right and tucked the ball in at the near post.
Somerton completed the scoring five minutes from time.
Somerton, Ure and central midfielder Kane Stirton caused Thistle Youth plenty of problems, while sweeper Mike Rogers and rightback Josh Blair shone in defence.
Midfielder Levi Julies was man of the match for Thistle Youth.
Coach Ross Niven said Julies had played “all over the park” and did well wherever he was put.
The youth team hit the bar with one shot and could have scored twice, he said.
But every shot Massive had seemed netbound, while the youth team had no luck in front of goal.
Niven was pleased his team kept going until the end.