Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stalemate leaves O-League battle evenly poised

[OFC News, 14 June 2011] - The fight to become the Solomon Islands representative in the 2012 O-League remains evenly poised after Koloale and Solomon Warriors fought out a scoreless draw in the first leg of the qualifying play-off yesterday at Lawson Tama Stadium.

A large crowd filed in to watch the game but such was the level of interest that many were still waiting in the long line at the gate when the match kicked off.

The fans inside the ground had barely taken their seats when Koloale striker Ian Paia had the first chance of the game, crashing a header against the goal post in the fifth minute.

Koloale, winners of the inaugural Telekom S-League, went on to dominate the opening quarter of an hour and created another good opportunity in the 17th minute, Henry Fa'arodo getting on the end of a Benjamin Totori cross but placing his attempt well above the cross bar. He had only goalkeeper Paul Huia to beat and his disappointed reaction made it clear he felt he should have done better.

Warriors had another scare just a few minutes later when a Joses Nawo corner kick found the head of defender George Suri, whose effort beat Huia but was cleared off the line by an alert George Kwanae.

After the uncertain start, Warriors were beginning to come back into the match though and had the ball in the net in the 25th minute.

Paia struck the crossbar again for Koloale but the ball bounced back into play, allowing Warriors to launch a counter attack. Dennis Ifunaoa and Carrol Kakate linked up well before the former finished the move off, only the see strike ruled out as the linesman raised his flag for offside.

There was time for Warriors to carve out one more good chance before the halftime whistle, Kidstone Billy grazing the top of Shadrock Ramoni's bar with a long-range effort in the 40th minute after Ifunaoa was again involved in some smart build-up play.

There were less clear-cut opportunities in a closely-fought second spell, the best of which arrived for Koloale from a free kick in the 58th minute. Nawo was brought down in a dangerous position and Totori tried his luck from the free kick but saw the woodwork rattled yet again as his strike smashed off the cross bar.

Despite several more half chances in the remaining 30 minutes, neither side was able to find a winner and their O-League fate will now be decided in the second leg, which takes place at Lawson Tama on Thursday from 3pm local time.

For more on Solomon Islands football go to www.siff.com.sb

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