Clapham Celebrates His 'Hundy' With A 'Hatty'
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By Jeremy Ruane
Canterbury United playmaker Aaron Clapham marked his 100th appearance for the club in style at Forsyth Barr Stadium on October 30, scoring a hat-trick to lead his side to a 3-1 win over Southern United in their Stirling Sports Premiership derby encounter.
Clapham was afforded an early chance to open his account when Stephen Last felled Andre de Jong inside the penalty area just two minutes into the contest. Needless to say, it was 1-0 very shortly afterwards from the twelve yard mark, with Liam Little sent the wrong way.
The visitors continued to press, and on the quarter-hour, a Matthew Wiesenfarth cross was headed on by Clapham to Juan Chang, whose close-range effort was hooked off the line by Conor O'Keefe, one of five Irish imports in the Southern squad.
After Last blocked a twenty-five yarder from Gary Ogilvie, the home team fired their first shot in anger in the contest in the 24th minute, with Eric Molloy's long-range effort fizzing narrowly past the post as Southern sought an equaliser.
Instead, they were given a mountain to climb by Canterbury on the half-hour, as the visitors doubled their advantage. Ogilvie and Clapham began the move in midfield, with the latter surging forward before linking with Chang.
He in turn brought Wiesenfarth into play, with the winger's angled pass into de Jong left by the striker for Clapham, who was ranging up outside and far better placed to exploit the opportunity to the fullest, something he did with aplomb as he steered the ball home from fifteen yards.
Southern had to score next, and the set-piece deliveries of Danny Ledwith gave them plenty of cause for optimism in this regard. But Canterbury stood firm, and should have gone further ahead nine minutes before half-time when a de Jong-led counter-attack culminated in the overlapping figure of Wiesenfarth firing over a cross which Chang blazed wildly over the bar.
Harley Rodeka was next to go close for Southern, his twenty-yarder six minutes before half-time forcing Danny Knight to cover his right-hand post. But things weren't happening for the home team, forcing coach Paul O'Reilly to ring the changes at half-time.
The introductions of Sam Collier and Cam Higgins certainly served their purpose in this regard, with Southern a far stronger proposition in the second spell, to the extent that Canterbury were on the back foot for a fair chunk of the half.
The visitors were first to threaten after the break through Brock Messenger's swerving twenty-five yarder, but it was Ledwith's eighteen yard volley which flashed narrowly over the bar at the other end of the park in the 55th minute which gave the locals hope, Andy Mulligan and Molloy having played a significant role in the concerted build-up.
In the 64th minute, Southern were only prevented from halving the deficit by a superb save from Knight. Collier led the charge through the middle, and held the ball up well before Mulligan dashed up in support. The midfielder outmuscled substitute Aaron Spain en route to the penalty area, where his bid to score was thwarted by a splendid one-handed denial by Knight.
That served as a suitable alarm for Canterbury, who gradually got back into the contest. They twice went close in the next six minutes, with Wiesenfarth firing over the bar before de Jong's through ball invited Chang to shoot, a task he accomplished, but not with the desired accuracy, his angled effort beating both Little and the far post.
Ten minutes from time, Wiesenfarth slipped a delicious pass into the stride of de Jong, whose run in between defenders left him one-on-one with Little. The 'keeper responded superbly with a fine block.
As the game entered stoppage time, Southern finally got the goal their efforts merited. Mulligan led the charge, before linking up with Molloy, whose run through the inside right channel allowed him to engineer a shooting angle from which he beat Knight all ends up, the ball crossing the line via the far upright.
Could there be late drama? There certainly was, but at the other end of the park, as de Jong took on three players, with Craig Ferguson the defender who brought the striker to earth.
Referee John Rowbury deemed that he did so by foul means rather than fair, and pointed once more to the penalty spot, from where Clapham completed his hat-trick in unerring fashion, thus sealing Canterbury's 3-1 win, and South Island bragging rights once more.
Southern: Little; O'Keefe, Ferguson, Last, Ledwith; Hogan, Howard (Higgins, 46), Mulligan; Rodeka (McPhail, 69 (booked, 81)), Molloy, Ridden (Collier, 46).
Canterbury: Knight; Messenger (Spain, 55 (booked, 84)), Komolong, Schwarz (booked, 82), Wilson; Ogilvie, de Jong, Clapham; Wiesenfarth (Thoms, 83), Hoyle (van Gool, 89), Chang.
Referee: John Rowbury.