17 Mar 2013

Waitakere win fourth premiership in a row

6:40 pm on 17 March 2013

Waitakere United are the New Zealand Premiership football champions for a record fourth season in a row after downing Auckland City 4-3 in extra time at Whenuapai.

Auckland City opened the scoring when Manel Exposito evaded a Brian Shelley challenge to score after 15 minutes to put the navy blues in front.

But Waitakere United were level on the half hour mark when Roy Krishna slammed home a Chad Coombes cross on the half volley.

The West Aucklanders were in front two minutes later when Allan Pearce glanced home a Coombes corner to see the lead change hands, the fifth time Pearce has scored in a Premiership grand final.

With 16 minutes left, Exposito levelled the game with a carbon copy goal of his first effort, bending a shot beyond Robinson that skidded off the wet surface to make it 2-2.

The game took another dramatic twist three minutes later when substitute Simon Arms was sent off for pulling Krishna's shirt with the Fiji international through on goal.

Down to ten men and looking out on their feet, Auckland City produced a moment of sheer delight for their away support when former Waitakere United player Chris Bale slammed home from close range with just a minute left on the clock.

With Auckland City 3-2 up and only seconds left, Waitakere United substitute Tristan Prattley wound in a wonderful cross that saw Krishna cushion a delicate header past Williams to take the game to extra time.

The match was settled ten minutes into the first period of extra time when Pearce scored a replica of his first with a repeat glancing header from a Luiz del Monte corner to give Waitakere a 4-3 lead.