Eastern Suburbs have delivered one of their best performances of the season to come from behind to defeat the Canterbury United Dragons 5-1 in the ISPS Handa Premiership on Saturday.
The Danny Hay coached side, who have opened the New Year as the form team with big wins over Southern United and the Wellington Phoenix Reserves, continued their momentum against an in-form Canterbury side in hot conditions at Riverhills Park in Auckland.
With his team 1-0 down at half-time, Hay called for cool heads and his young side delivered with five unanswered goals for an impressive win.
“We said to them go out there and enjoy it, this is what we are after, that challenge,” says the former All White.
“When you are 1-0 down, you have to look at the positives and there were plenty of those. We wanted them to go out there and show what they were capable of.”
Suburbs have now scored 19 goals in their past four games in an incredible run as they look to put pressure on the ISPS Handa Premiership defending champions Auckland City.
“They are enjoying playing football, they enjoy each other’s company, and there is a really good vibe around this team at the moment. We are in a good space.”
The Dragons looked to continue their hot run of form where they had gone undefeated in their past six matches. They took the early lead through George King. The 24-year-old defensive midfielder was on hand to finish a well-worked counterattack down the right flank to take the lead in the 20th minute.
Willy Gerdsen’s side held that lead into the break but it was all the home team in the second half. All Whites midfielder Andre de Jong got the Lily Whites into the lead when he scored a quick-fire double after half-time.
That was followed by goals from Michael Built, Dominic Wooldridge and Callum McCowatt as Suburbs’ dominance showed on the scoreboard in the second-half.
The win sees the Lily Whites keep pace with frontrunners Auckland City who remarkably have won all 10 of their games of the ISPS Handa Premiership so far and will look to continue that run against Hawke’s Bay United tomorrow in Napier.
Meanwhile, Southern United have reminded everyone what they are capable of with a quality performance to defeat semi-final contenders Hamilton Wanderers at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
The Paul O’Reilly coached side notched their fourth win of the 2018 / 19 campaign thanks to a first half hat-trick from Irish forward Garbhan Coughlan.
The 25-year-old, who was impressed in his first season in the premiership last year, opened the scoring with a powerful strike from 35 yards out to the bottom left corner which left the Wanderers keeper Jonathan Mannes no chance.
Wanderers bounced back soon after when a shot from Xavier Pratt took a significant deflection and left Southern keeper Liam Little unable to stop it creeping in at the left post.
That joy was short lived for Hamilton when Coughlan weaved his way through the opposition box, beating a number of players and calmly slotting home for a fine individual goal.
Seven minutes later, Coughlan found the back of the net to complete a hat-trick inside 20 minutes. His shot took a deflection and found the bottom-right corner for a 3-1 lead at half-time.
No further goals were added in the second half and Southern recorded an important home win. They came into the fixture winless in their last four and now have another three consecutive home games to make a late charge for the playoffs.