The 16th round of PNG National Soccer League was full of surprises! After a long period we now have a change in the top-three teams as Lae City and Vitiaz United could not win this weekend. Hekari United needed to battle hard to surpass Morobe Wawens and move back to the second place.
Vitiaz United had everything to win FC Bougainville in the first match of the day in Port Moresby; but they forget to play good enough to confirm their favouritism. Despite having the biggest portion of ball possesion, it was FCB who took the lead still in the first half thanks to a close range finish from the young Bernard Purari. The recent signing of Boungainville scored a goal that put a lot of pressure in the team captained by Eliud Fugre.
Vitiaz attacked Boungainville for almost the entire second half, but the duo composed by Mathew David and Jonathan Allen could not combine as usual upfront. Boungainville managed to hold the pressure and keep Vitiaz off-target to confirm the upset and valuable three points in the battle for the fourth spot in the semi-finals.
In Lae FC Kutubu gave a lot of work for Star Mountain; Joseph Waiwai opened the scoreline for the Port Moresby-based team in the first half, but the good performer Oberth Simon equalised for Kutubu with a solo effort play still in the initial part of the game. Star Mountain came strong in the starting minutes of the second half as the experienced Tau Winnie was on target to score the second for his side; Tamas Roman added another just minutes later for Star Mountain.
Kutubu did not give up: Iso Muekako reduced the lead and already in the late stages of the game Bradley Gorom equalised once again for Kutubu. Star Mountain pressed high, put more numbers forward in the final minutes and their hard work paid off; William Yumb scored the winner for his side. Kutubu still tried to get another equaliser, but they did not have enough time to do so.
Hekari United did not count once again on Raymond Gunemba this weekend; certainly a huge miss for the Red Army as no strikers were on target today for Hekari. The first goal of the day came after a defensive blunder of Wawens’ defense allowing Rodger Saking to an easy finish after a cross coming from a free-kick.
In the second half it was time for another full-back to score: Junior David. The young Solomon Islander scored through a fantastic long-range shot giving no chances for Wawens’ goalkeeper Jason Bendi. This was the second goal for Hekari in the contest. Wawens did not take long to respond; a close finish was saved by Hekari’s Dave Tomare, but in the rebound Richard Waffi made no mistake to pull one back for his team.
Hekari managed to control the game, but Wawens had their spells in counter-attacks but could not turn them into real goalscoring chances. Hekari could had scored more goals in the final part of the game, but their forwards were really not on target this weekend.
We had one more upset in the second match of the day in Lae. The current first-placed side Lae City could not get more than a draw in a match they should had won against Morobe United. Both sides were locked in the first half and all two goals of the encounter happened in the final 45 minutes.
The always good Stahl Gubag put Lae City upfront in the early stages of the second half, but what seemed the start of another win for the team coached by Bob Morris ended up in a very frustrating outcome: the substitute Tosh Ibax equalised for Morobe United in the final stages of the game giving no chance of reaction for the current national champions. Despite the draw, Lae City is fortunate Vitiaz United lost in the round as they continue at the top of the table.
The final game of the day took place in Port Moresby as Gulf Komara hosted the Madang-based side Tusbab Stallions. After seven games in a row without a win, the team coached by Rachel Wadunah played good football to finally get back to winning ways. The game started very well for Stallinos as the fast striker Graham Berigami dribbled Komara’s goalkeeper and with a fine touch put the ball in the back of the net. It did not take long for Stallions as a lapse of concentration allowed Renagi Ila to receive the ball unmarked to fire a very good shot past goalkeeper Jesse Mandari to level the match just minutes after conceding.
In the second half the match turned very physical, Komara lacked creativity to create opportunities – being frustrated by the good defensive performance of Tusbab Stallions. The brilliant Jason Wadunah was there for Stallions: the 17-year-old midfielder fired a fantastic long-range shot to put his side upfront.
Komara had the ball, introduced the striker Rupa Emil upfront, but they were not in a good day; lack of creativity and a good composure from Stallions’ defensive line frustrated the Gulf Komara’s forwards, helping Stallions to defend their lead until the final whistle. The 2-1 win of Stallions give them back the fourth place in the run with two more matches to be played to decide which side will qualify for the PNG National Soccer League finals.
You can check the updated standings, top scorers and results of the 2019/20 season of the PNG National Soccer League by visiting our session of the competition.