National title then off to work for Team Wellington

Team Wellington came, they saw, they conquered mighty Auckland, they celebrated, then went back to work as New Zealand premiership champions.

Such is the way of amateur sport, as players that had just inflicted the first defeat on Auckland in 28 games in a match that really mattered, farewelled each other at Wellington Airport on Friday morning.

There were high fives, handshakes, one-armed hugs. Then off to work they went, with coach Matt Calcott and two-goal hero Tom Jackson left behind for the photos and interviews.

Team Wellington celebrate their first win in New Zealand's premier domestic football competition.

Jackson headed to work in his black Team Wellington shorts and shirt, thanking his luck it was casual Friday.

It was an anti-climatic finish to a journey highlighted by a 4-2 extra time win littered with dramatic moments, penalties, spectacular near misses, and equally spectacular strikes.

After a long range effort to open the scoring early in the second half of normal time, Jackson sealed the deal in extra time with a fine header.

Team Wellington were 1-2 down with time all but up, when captain Cole Peverley stepped up to equalise from the spot and send the match to extra time.

Lining up from the spot after a Takuya Iwata foul on league golden boot winner Ben Harris, Peverley took slightly longer over the ball, given what was at stake.

"To be honest I've taken pens for years and I don't really get nervous, I just step up and take them. But I was nervous on that one because I thought if I miss it, it's all over. But luckily I stuck it away," he said.

At that point Calcott felt momentum favoured his spirited team of scrapping underdogs. And so it proved.

"That was huge, absolutely massive. I could see that (Auckland) thought they had one hand on (the trophy) and just to score in the 88th-89th minute was incredibly important. We did that," he said.

"You could just see that lift in the group. You could feel that there was that sense of urgency after we scored, that's what you need going into extra time, sometimes that's the difference.

"I am delighted, delighted ... they're such a strong club and 27 or 28 games undefeated, that had to come to an end."

Calcott felt the upset win would be good for the whole league, as well as for football in the capital after Auckland had dominated for so long.

Wellington had pushed the Aucklanders hard this season, without ever securing victory. Until Thursday night.

"It was really important - no matter what it looked like - to get it across the line, and get that win," he said.

"I think it will do wonders for the league as well as Team Wellington because it shows, that just a little club is batting well above average and has won the national league, so it's good to see."

Even at a goal down and with time ticking away, Calcott was not prepared to accept his side were headed for disappointment.

"We always had a bit of hope. You always have hope with this group because they have so much resolve.

"They're so passionate about representing Team Wellington they'll throw themselves at anything. They've had so many ups and downs this year."

Striker Harris was an example of that resolve; even while hampered by cramp his attacking guile was able to win the penalty which squared the match.

And he stayed on in extra time as Calcott went for a four-man attack in a bid for trophy glory.

"It worked out well, sometimes it doesn't."

Team Wellington are now targeting the OFC Champions League after their stunning win, with shot at the lucrative FIFA Club World Cup the carrot.

 

 

 - Stuff