Host side Tupapa welcomed first-placed Puaikura to Victoria Park on Saturday, where they went head-to-head in a defining match of the Round Cup Competition.
Puaikura shot off to an aggressive start with an early opportunity that saw Anthony Samuela charge down a long ball from the half-way mark.
Tupapa sweeper Hone Fowler was up to the challenge and assisted Manaariki Pierre’s save to quickly clear out Samuela’s strong shot.
Both sides enjoyed plenty of possession with a few unsuccessful attempts at goal, however, it was Puaikura’s Kimiora Samuela who gave his side lead when he broke through an open Tupapa backline to put a low drive wide of Pierre in the 19th minute. Lethal striker Pekay Edwards then extended the lead after running on to the ball to slip in their second goal of the match. The 2-0 lead reinvigorated the visitors, but Tupapa regained composure and, after a tough battle for possession, were finally rewarded for their efforts in the 38th minute.
Star striker Campbell Best slammed the ball down to Terence Maruariki but an unlucky deflection put him in trouble when Tupapa midfielder Geoffrey Strickland raced in from wide to power home the only goal for their side.
In the second spell, both teams battled hard to get the win. Puaikura aimed to maintain their 2-1 lead while Tupapa were determined to level the match.
The hunt for another goal became desperate for the host team, which picked up the pace and started to play fast football.
However, their luck finishing in front of the 17-yard line came up short as Puaikura held on to emerge 2-1 winners.
The win extended Puaikura’s unbeaten streak in the competition, gaining them a step closer to qualifying for the OFC preliminary tournament in Tonga next year.
It’s back to the drawing board for Tupapa who will now focus on getting through the knockout stages of the competition.
Meanwhile, in the Islander Hotel senior women’s competition Tupapa Maraerenga escaped with a 3-2 win over Puaikura, while Titikaveka also continued in their winning ways against Avatiu with a 1-0 victory.
- CIFA Media
Avatiu FC-Titikaveka FC – Premier Men 2-1, Senior Women 0-1, Under 17 Men 0-6, Under 14 Boys 0-7, Under 14 Girls 0-1, Under 11 Mixed 0-0,Under 8 Mixed 0-1; Tupapa Maraerenga FC-Puaikura FC – Premier Men 1-2, Senior Women 3-2, Under 17 Men 2-1, Under 14 Boys 1-1, Under 14 Girls 2-1, Under 11 Mixed 3-2, Under 8 Mixed 0-2; Takuvaine FC-Nikao Sokattak – Under 17 Men 0-4, Under 11 Mixed 1-1, Under 8 Mixed 2-1.
Today Nikao Sokattak FC-Takuvaine FC at Takuvaine – 4pm Under 14 Girls (Ref: Amnish Prasad, Assist: Tanisha Tangimetua, Amene Urirau), 5pm Premier Men (Ref: Mike Mouauri, Assist: Amnish Prasad, Maara Kaukura).