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NZF: U-23s continue perfect start

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand U-23 men have continued their flying start to the Pacific Games with another comfortable victory, outclassing hosts Samoa 5-1 in Apia this evening.

After issuing a statement of intent on the opening day by sweeping Tonga aside 13-0, Des Buckingham’s team were again looking to go on the goal rampage to put themselves in a strong position in Pool A.

It looked like they could be on course for another big score when racing into a 3-0 lead by the break but Samoa offered more resistance in the second half and were rewarded for their improved showing by spoiling New Zealand’s clean sheet late on.

With that Tonga triumph having taken place only two days earlier, Buckingham opted to make full use of his squad with only six players - goalkeeper Cameron Brown, Logan Rogerson, Robert Tipelu, Dane Schnell, Ollie Whyte and Jackson Brady - retaining their places in the starting line-up.

Captain Rogerson had done much of the damage against Tonga with a five-goal haul and picked up where he left off today, notching a first-half double to take his tournament tally to seven.

The three-cap All White showed sharp predatory instincts for both strikes but the pick of his brace was the opener, for which Rogerson held off a challenge to control a bouncing ball before firing past Faalavelave Matagi.

The Samoan goalkeeper must have thought he’d be in for a long day when picking the ball out of his net for a third time just before the interval.

Jorge Akers did not to feature against Tonga but made the most of his international debut by opening his account for his country, running onto a through ball before lofting a delightful effort over Matagi.

That put New Zealand in complete control heading into the changing rooms and the Samoan players would have breathed a sigh of relief to see Rogerson not emerge for the second half, the talismanic skipper missing out on the chance to complete his hat-trick after being withdrawn for Ihaia Delaney.

Seth Clark and Stafford Dowling were also introduced in the second half as Buckingham looked to manage the workload of his squad with a challenging match to come against Vanuatu on Friday.

Roared on by a vociferous crowd at the JS Blatter Football Complex, Samoa kept New Zealand at bay until the hour mark, when Robert Tipelu put the result beyond any doubt by turning home a free kick at close range.

Substitute Clark then made an impact, impressive play from Akers teeing him up to slide the ball into an empty net and make it 5-0.

New Zealand seemed set for a second consecutive clean sheet but Brown and his defenders were denied that honour when Vito Laloata slotted a late consolation goal to send Samoa’s rowdy fans into raptures.

Buckingham’s charges will now go into recovery mode before looking to make it three wins in a row against Vanuatu, who are among New Zealand’s rivals for top spot and take on Papua New Guinea this evening.

Match Details

New Zealand U-23 5 (Logan Rogerson 16’, 37’, Jorge Akers 43’, Robert Tipelu 60’, Seth Clark 78’)

Samoa 1 (Vito Laloata 89’)

HT: 3-0

New Zealand: 1. Cameron Brown (GK), 3. Sean Liddicoat (10. Seth Clark 60’), 4. Robert Tipelu, 5. Billy Jones, 6. Dane Schnell, 7. Ollie Whyte, 9. Logan Rogerson (c) (15. Ihaia Delaney 46’), 11. Jake Porter (16. Stafford Dowling 65’), 13. Jackson Brady, 14. Jorge Akers, 17. Sean Cooper

Substitutes not used: 2. Jordan Spain, 8. Lachlan McIsaac, 12. Conor Tracey (GK), 18. Dylan de Jong, 19. Byron Heath

Coach: Des Buckingham

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