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Ngongotaha Celebrate Golden Jubilee In Style
Story by Jeremy Ruane

Ngongotaha marked the club's Golden Jubilee year in fine style at Parrs Park on October 8, overwhelming Lynn-Avon United 4-2 on the day, and 6-3 on aggregate, to clinch a return to the Lotto Northern League for the first time since 1994.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, United had to win the contest if they were to return to the league after a one-year absence, and they duly applied pressure from the outset. But the first chance fell to the Bay of Plenty club, with Mitch Miller testing Phillip Watts in the fifth minute.

United's response came nine minutes later, and saw Joseph Costello hit the crossbar after Hanjaar Kidiwala's free-kick had picked out the head of the central defender, who could do nothing to prevent Ngongotaha opening the scoring sixty seconds later.

A right-wing throw-in to Miller culminated in Josh Haua hammering a twenty-five yard screamer past Watts with such force that the goalkeeper was still diving for the shot when the ball was rebounding off the net back into the goalmouth.

It was a hammer blow - in more ways than one - for Lynn-Avon, who nearly conceded a second goal three minutes later. Harlem Simiona's corner picked out Simon Te Kiri, who lobbed the ball to the far post. Watts misjudged it, but so did Josh O'Sullivan, whose airshot prompted groans galore from the healthy contingent of Ngongotaha fans who made the journey north.

They had even more to groan about in the nineteenth minute - a Lynn-Avon equaliser. It was a super solo goal too, Liam de Andrad-Alway setting off on a solo run which took him past three opponents before he let rip from twenty yards with a shot which flashed past James Towers to level the scores.

Within seconds, United were claiming a penalty when Kidiwala went down in the area. Referee Allan Wilson firmly turned away their calls, but Lynn-Avon continued to press. De Andrad-Always lofted the ball forward for Kidiwala, who hurtled through but was beaten to the ball by Towers, whom the United man couldn't avoid running into at such close range.

Referee Wilson handled the resulting meeting of the minds firmly but fairly, and play soon resumed, with a Kidiwala corner on the half-hour resulting in a "Nongie" counter-attack. O'Sullivan won a foot-race for possession with the tireless figure of Joshua Dobson, and duly picked out Miller with his cross. The striker's drive cleared the crossbar by no more than a foot - a great chance spurned.

But Ngongotaha didn't have long to wait to regain the lead on the day. In the 36th minute, Simiona scooted down the left, then stood up Nicolas Kerrigan on the edge of the penalty area before bursting into it and beating Watts all ends up at his near post.

That made it 2-1 to "Nongie" on the day, and 4-2 on aggregate, meaning Lynn-Avon had to score three goals without reply, a task which was rendered virtually impossible five minutes later, as Ngongotaha all but secured their spot in the 2017 Lotto Northern League Second Division.

Simiona delivered a corner to the far post which invited Miller to let fly once more. Watts parried his shot, but the ball rebounded perfectly to Dave Haua, who battered the ball home from close range to give the visitors a 3-1 lead.

Before the interval, they could have scored twice more, with Josh Haua going close before Miller under-hit a pass to O'Sullivan when the latter was perfectly placed to pile more agony upon United, whose heads had dropped following Dave Haua's 41st minute goal, which effectively rendered the second half a non-event.

Ngongotaha nearly extended their advantage 100 seconds into the second spell, Dobson's clearance ricocheting off Simiona and looping just over both Watts and the crossbar. United retorted through de Andrad-Alway, who burst through the inside left channel in the 53rd minute before curling a shot past the far post.

Five minutes later, "Nongie" went desperately close to another goal, with Alan Ferguson producing a delightful piece of skill to beat Kidiwala before bringing O'Sullivan into play. He wrong-footed all-comers before whipping in a cross which skimmed the brow of Jacob Davis as he looked to head the ball home.

Sixty seconds later, any hopes United held of mounting a comeback were dashed as Ngongotaha struck their fourth goal of the afternoon. More fine work by Simiona on the left culminated in a cross which Watts spilled under pressure from Miller, who reacted swiftly to swivel and slam the ball into the top far corner of the net in the 59th minute.

It now became an exercise in by how many Ngongotaha would win, but they spurned a handful of chances before the final whistle, among them efforts from O'Sullivan and Ferguson, which were saved by Watts, and a Josh Haua header which clipped the post.

United, meanwhile, looked to reduce the arrears, but Hugh Sorby and Costello were kept out by Towers. Sorby wasn't to be denied, however, and slotted home in stoppage time to end Lynn-Avon's season with a consolation goal in this 4-2 defeat, a scoreline which prompted celebrations aplenty among Ngongotaha's players and supporters once the final whistle on the 2016 winter season was blown.

Lynn-Avon: Watts; Kerrigan, Costello, Illing, J. Dobson (Murray, 55); Sorby, Rennie (Michael, 46), Sem, Siraz Ali; De Andrad-Alway (Gibbons, 77), Kidiwala.

Ngongotaha: Towers; Davis, Dave Haua (Dan Haua, 58), Te Kiri, Hinz; Miller (Barker, 89), O'Donoghue, J. Haua (booked, 2), Simiona; Ferguson, O'Sullivan (Casas, 83).

Referee: Allan Wilson.

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