Marist draw in tough group D opener.
Solomon Islands Second Oceania Champions League representatives, Marist FC has succumbed to a late Team Wellington goal to secure a 1-1 draw at Lawson Tama stadium in Honiara.
In front of a rapturous crowd and the blazing mid-afternoon Honiara heat both teams started off equally, attacking each other’s half early.
Wellington’s Hamish Watson had the first chance into the game with a short range shot just 2 minutes into the game but was comfortably saved by Anthony Talo.
Marist Captain Henry Fa’arodo nearly put his side ahead in the 9th minute with a long range shot but was tapped away by Scott Basalaj.
The breakthrough came in the 37th minute after a quick counter attack by the home side, which Atkin Kaua sent in a fine assist to the Veteran Abraham Iniga who danced around 2 defenders and sent the ball through for the first goal.
Both teams went to the breather with Marist leading by a goal to nil.
Team Wellington started the second with more intent and pretty much dominated.
Despite the continuous attack by Marist down the right hand side, The Kiwis stood their ground and proceeded with more control and more chances.
The equaliser came just 4 minutes to full time through a free running Angus Kilkolly, who sent a low flying shot past the napping Marist defence to silence the home crowd.
Marist’s Matthias Iani could’ve bagged the winning goal two minutes after a through ball by Abraham Iniga, who was left with only the keeper to beat but squandered the opportunity.
Robert Laua also had golden opportunity deep into extra time after a loose ball but fired the ball from his weaker left foot, which went inches wide from the goal, much to the dismay of the home crowd.
Both coaches were happy with the result after the game.
Marist Coach Jerry Allen said he was satisfied with the draw despite conceding the late goal.
“Our objective was to come out with a win or draw, and we achieved it,” he said.
“Tactically we have to change in the second game, improve from our weak areas but I’m confident for the next game.”
Meanwhile Team Wellington coach Jose Figuera said he was happy to come out with a draw and that Marist gave them a tough first half.
He said the tactical changes in the second half gave the team more momentum and more control, which produced many goal opportunity.
“A lot of the players aren’t used to playing in front of such big crowds, and told them to swallow it and get on with it,” he said.
“This game gave us a good understanding of the conditions and the level of football here, and has given as a good preparation for the next game.”
In the earlier match, AS Magenta had a tough encounter with Lupe Ole Soaga but came out with a hard fought 2-0 win.
Marist will now take on AS Magenta on Tuesday next week, while Team Wellington will face Lupe Ole Soaga
By: Lowen Sei.