One more round came to an end in ISPS Handa Premiership, the top-tier of football in New Zealand. As usual, the goalscoring records were kept high: 19 goals were scored in five matches, resulting in a 3,8 goal rate per game. The Wellington derby – the Wel Clasico as it is called – had seen Team Wellington to have a 2-0 at half time, but a revamped Phoenix Reserves could bounce back in the final half of the game to find an equalizer. While both sides of the capital city earned a point each in the competition, the current premiers of ISPS Handa Premiership won emphatically away from home by 5-0: Auckland City smashed Hamilton Wanderers to take the lead of the standings.
Playing in Cambridge with the possibility to field their new signing Clayton Lewis – which did not happen in this match – Auckland City won Hamilton Wanderers by 5-0 with a brace of Myer Bevan, one goal each by Logan Rogerson and David Browne – the first of the Papua New Guinean international in the season. The other goal of the visitors was an own goal. The side coached by Jose Figueira took the lead of ISPS Handa Premiership after the third round since the previous leaders Waitakere United just draw at home.
Hamilton Wanderers seemed to be recovering their season after beating Eastern Suburbs by 3-0 in the last round, the team coached by Ricki Herbert did not keep their good form against the mighty Auckland City suffering a very harsh defeat.
The previous team to top the table, Waitakere United, hoped to kept their good run from their first two matches in the league. They suffered a goal in the first half scored by Canterbury United defender Sean Liddicoat and needed to chase an equalizer for the rest of the match.
The third goal of the season for Alex Connor-McClean secured a point for Waitakere United. With a powerful finish, the striker found the nets already inside the final minutes of the game to avoid a defeat of his side. Waitakere continues still to be beaten while Canterbury United collected their fourth point in the run.
Away from home playing in Dunedin, the current champions Eastern Suburbs won by 4-2 Southern United. The home side was looking to recover from their previous defeat for Canterbury United in Christchurch at Logan Park but the Lilywhites did not avoid Southern to earn any point from their clash.
Reid Drake scored the first goal of the visitors and the Uruguayan striker Martin Bueno scored his debut goal for Eastern Suburbs in the league – a much awaited goal for a striker who scored lots of goals in the previous seasons when playing for Hamilton Wanderers and in the Central League as member of Napier City Rovers.
Still in the first half former Canterbury United attacking midfielder Stephen Hoyle scored the third of the visitors. In the final half of the game Garbhan Coughlan scored the first for Southern and his third in the campaign through a penalty kick, but Mohammed Awad score the fourth for Eastern Suburbs before the same Coughlan assisted for Cody Brook goal to give final numbers in the match: 4-2 in favour of the visitors and current title holders Eastern Suburbs.
Hawke’s Bay United won their second match in a row in the league after beating at home Tasman United by 2-0. Ihaia Delaney scored the first of the home team in the 9th minute and the player/co-coach Bill Robertson scored the final goal of the encounter still in the first half at the 34th minute of play. HBU now has six points in the table at the end of the ISPS Handa Premiership third round.
Tasman United continues their nightmare in the first three matches of the season – the club is the unique side still to score a point in the table and they are also yet to score any goals in the league. The club from Nelson did not see yet the quality of their main signing for the season, the former Manukau United forward Jama Boss.
Team Wellington faced a revamped Phoenix Reserves: the first team which plays in Australian top-tier is on a bye week, it allowed the coach Paul Temple to field some important players as Oliver Sail, Ben Waine, Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi and Cameron Devlin.
Despite the reinforcements, Hamish Watson scored his fourth goal in the season giving TeeDubs the lead and still in the first half the new signing Ollie Bassett scored the second for his new club in the match and his third in the campaign.
In the second half the story was told differently: Phoenix cut the deficit through Ben Waine efforts and the same young talent scored the equalizer for his side. The match would end up early for Waine that needed to leave the pitch after an injury. Despite good attacks by Team Wellington and also Phoenix reserves in the final minutes of the game, the result was to be a 2-2 draw.
Phoenix Reserves already scored six goals in the league this season and this match seals their first point in the run. Team Wellington draw their second match in a row – the last round saw a thrilling Auckland City vs. Team Wellington clash at Kiwitea Street where both sides draw also in 2-2.
The Auckland City striker Myer Bevan is on fire, scoring six times in the first three matches of the league and topping the golden boot race in the season. The new signing of the season is making his comeback to his former club with style. Hamish Watson also made his comeback to New Zealand Football to play for his former side Team Wellington after a short stint in Australia and is just behind Bevan in the run for the top of the goalscoring laddar. Various players already scored three goals in the season – a season that promises to be full of goals – as Ollie Bassett of Team Wellington, the number 9 of Southern United Garbhan Coughlan and the young striker Alex Connor-McClean of Waitakere United.
Auckland City took the first place in the table after winning Hamilton Wanderers by 5-0 with seven points, the same amount of points Waitakere United has but the goal debits put the Navy Blues upfront. Eastern Suburbs and Hawke’s Bay United complete the top four with six points each while Team Wellington sits at 5th position with five points. Tasman United is still to score in the table and is the last placed team in the standings.