Team Wellington claimed their first ASB Premiership title with a dramatic 4-2 come-from-behind extra-time win over two-time defending champions Auckland City FC at QBE Stadium in Albany on Thursday.
Facing a 2-1 deficit with just two minutes on the clock, Team Wellington staged a remarkable fightback, levelling via a Cole Peverley penalty and then scoring twice in the first half of extra time through league Golden Boot Ben Harris and Tom Jackson as the capital club secured qualification for the Oceania Champions League while also closing the door on Auckland City’s three-peat bid as well as their record 28-game unbeaten domestic run.
Jackson had earlier given his side 52nd minute lead with a rocket from the edge of the Auckland area before Joao Moreira pulled Auckland City level at 1-1 from the penalty spot after a controversial decision by referee Matt Conger to award a penalty as Takuya Iwata’s cross struck Chris Bale at close range.
The six-time champions then hit the front themselves with only nine minutes to go, piercing what had been an excellent Team Wellington defensive effort until that point when Daewook Kim shook free of his marker and headed home from close range beyond an exposed Scott Basalaj in the Team Wellington goal.
But, unsurprisingly in what has been a dramatic season – particularly involving these two sides, there was another late twist as Iwata hauled down Harris in the penalty area and Peverley duly converted to send the game to the extra frame.
Harris then provided his typically decisive scoring contribution four minutes into the first period of extra time; volleying home in the aftermath of an Anthony Hobbs long throw.
Rocked by that blow, Auckland City were reeling soon after – Jackson curling a wonderful effort against Rivas’ crossbar before it was cleared for a corner. In it came and Jackson rose in the crowd to head it home for 4-2 and secure his side’s first ASB Premiership title.
ASB Premiership 2015-16 – Grand Final
Thursday 10 March
Auckland City FC 2-4 Team Wellington (half: 0-0)
AC: Joao Moreira (pen) 61’, Daewook Kim 81’
TW: Tom Jackson 52’, 99’, Cole Peverley (pen) 88’, Ben Harris 94’
Auckland City FC: 24. Diego Rivas (GK), 3. Takuya Iwata (22. Andrew Milne 102’), 4. Mario Bilen, 5. Angel Berlanga (capt), 6. Jesse Edge, 10. Ryan De Vries, 11. Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, 16. Daewook Kim, 17. Joao Moreira, 19. Micah Lea’alafa (9. Darren White 58’), 20. Emiliano Tade (14. Clayton Lewis 87’)
Substitutes not used: 7. Reid Drake, 8. Michael Den Heijer, 13. Alfie Rogers, 18. Danyon Drake (GK),
Coach: Ramon Tribulietx
Team Wellington: 1. Scott Basalaj (GK), 4. Anthony Hobbs, 5. Bill Robertson, 6. Chris Bale, 7. Leonardo Villa (15. Magno Vieira 85’), 9. Tom Jackson, 10. Luis Corrales (12. Andy Bevin 65’), 11. Mario Barcia (8. Cole Peverley 54’), 13. Alex Feneridis, 16. Ben Harris, 17. Fergus Neil
Substitutes not used: 14. Billy Scott, 18. Saul Halpin, 20. Taylor Schrijvers, 22. Alex Carr (GK)
Coach: Matt Calcott
Posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2016