The Nelson Falcons have introduced themselves in the second best way possible by drawing 2-2 with last year’s champions Canterbury United, in their first official match.
The ASB Youth League newcomers left it late, with Blenheim striker Omar Guardiola scoring a screamer with just five minutes to go on the scoreboard before substitute Harry Tod-Smith equalised in stoppage time, cancelling out Canterbury’s two previous strikes, in front of a bumper crowd at Trafalgar Park.
New Zealand King Salmon Nelson Falcons coach Davor Tavich, who rang three changes at half time, says the side can take plenty of confidence out of the performance, in particular during the final stages of the match. “The main message [at halftime] was to pick up the intensity and match Canterbury, who are a physically strong side and are technically very good,” he says. “I’m definitely sure that the boys are going to take a lot from this game. The nerves are probably gone now. I think we are going to get a few more results.”
Davor acknowledged the side did miss some key chances with Omar hitting the post just minutes after Canterbury’s opening goal while Tore Waechter missed a second half penalty. “It’s football though, you know? Those things happen and you just have to play on. It’s not the end until the final whistle blows.” But two of the side’s best chances actually came from goal keeper Coey Turipa who tested his opposite from a spot kick just beyond the halfway line. He then got a header on target after leaving his box in the dying stages to join a corner.
Davor credited the difference Nayland College captain Sam Maxwell made in the middle of the park when he came on while also praising the defensive efforts of Mark Johnston and US-based Erik Panzer and the busy Omar.
Erik was only available for one match before returning for his second year at Quinnipiac University so will miss this Sunday’s clash against YoungHeart Manawatu which kicks off at 2pm at Trafalgar Park. Davor says there are likely to be few changes to the match-day squad. “For us we just need to work a lot harder and speed it up.”