Bays Retain Championship with 3-1 win over Waitakere at BCP 05/09/09

The biggest crowd of the season was on hand to witness what was in effect the Championship final. East Coast Bays needed either a win or a draw to retain the championship title they won last year while Waitakere needed to win this game and their final one against Glenfield to better Bays. As Waitakere have been the only side to have beaten Bays in the last two seasons, the result was not a foregone conclusion.
The game itself was a cracker, marred only by some controversial decisions by the officials who clearly weren’t up to the task. Why the top referee in US1 was not appointed, was commented upon before, during and after the game.
The opening twenty minutes was cut and thrust with both sides showing no inclination to settle for a draw and both creating chances of which the best went to Waitakere who saw a drive diverted by an outstretched book just wide of the upright.
The visitors took the lead in the 23rd minute and we had the first controversial decision. Following a goalmouth scramble the ball was partly cleared finding Jake Butler on the edge of the box. His drive found it way through a forest of legs and was heading for the corner of the net when a Waitakere player, clearly offside, stuck out a foot but failed to make contact, and the ball beat Aidan Gwilt and entered the net. Bays cried offside, but the referee after looking at his assistant , allowed to goal to stand.
Encouraged by this decision, Waitakere pressed and Damian Fonoti was just wide with a header while Keegan Linderboom forced a good save from Gwilt.
Just before the half hour Dan Peat got on the end of a pass and saw his shot beat the keeper, hit the inside of the upright, roll along the goal line and back into play where it was hacked clear.
Play continued back and forth until the last minute of the half when Dan Morgan-Howell made a run down the flank and sent over a cross, but no one was on hand to make use of it.
Bays came out steaming at the start of the second half, playing towards their supporters at the clubhouse end of the ground. They pressured Waitakere and got their reward just short of the hour. A corner was cleared but found Jason McKeown some 25 metres out and he sent the crowd into raptures when he smacked a low drive through a crowded penalty area into the net to level the score.
Bays were back in the game and thought they had gone ahead three minutes later when an attack down the left flank and the subsequent cross saw the ball deflected into the Waitakere net. Unfortunately for Bays, the assistant referee, from 55 metres away, called that the ball had crossed the line earlier, so the goal was disallowed.
George Suri had been harshly booked in the first half and in the 69th minute he went in for a tackle, won the ball while bringing down his opponent. With the crowd, divided, depending on whom you supported, he was given a second yellow card and sent from the field.
Things looked grim for Bays, now a man down and Morgan-Howell was sacrificed so Nick Hyde could come on as a defender. Then amazingly, three minutes later, Waitakere were down to ten, when Tom Edwards was shown a straight red card for a tackle from behind.
With twelve minutes remaining of normal time, a long clearance from Gwilt found Peat who ran through and calmly slotted the ball past Waitakere’s keeper, Jason Mann, to give Bays the lead.
Three minutes later, Peat was put through again, he crossed the ball, a mad scramble developed in the Waitakere penalty area, several attempts were made to both score and clear before Shaun Van Rooyen got a foot to the ball and steered it wide of the defenders and beyond Mann, into the corner of the net.
Although down, Waitakere kept battling and Gwilt was forced to pull off a great save in stoppage time before the final whistle went and the celebrations could begin after captain Leigh Kenyon accepted the Championship Cup from Mike Anderson, Chairman of US1.
An undefeated second round, taking maximum points, saw Bays retain the trophy they won the previous year. A great team effort.
Team: Gwilt, Forrest, Suri, Zoghby, Beguely, Kenyon, Bresnahan, Van Rooyen (Webster 82), McKeown (Nawo 86), Peat, Morgan-Howell (Hyde 70)
Scorers: Mckeown 59, Peat 78, Van Rooyen 81


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