The Dragons have put the disappointment of last weekend’s loss to Eastern Suburbs behind them by claiming a hard-fought 2-1 victory against a determined Phoenix Reserves side.
Stephen Hoyle scored both goals for the home side taking his tally for the season to nine goals and his career tally to 33.
The Dragons started brightly and had the opening goal after just four minutes. An impressive run down the right hand side from new signing Hayden McHenery, which would have endeared him to the home fans, set up Hoyle who used power to smash the ball towards goal, although Oliver Sail got a hand on it he couldn’t prevent it from finding the back of the net.
The Phoenix looked much better than a side that had claimed only a solitary win all season, dominating possession in the first half despite being a goal behind and they were rewarded after 37mins when a deflection from Sean Liddicoat ballooned over Conor Tracey into the goal.
There was a little concern for the Dragons as George King was replaced by Seth Clark just on half-time although Clark did bring a lot of energy and didn’t stop working.
The second half saw the Dragons look the better side in the early stages and the more likely to take the lead but the youthful Phoenix side repelled each attack and started to find some opportunities themselves midway though the spell, Max Burgess coming closest on the hour mark after a rocket of a shot was well saved by the Dragons stopper.
The winner come ten minutes from time. After being awarded a free kick 25 yards out in front. Adam Thurston struck it well beating Sail to his left but the ball struck the inside the post. Hoyle, as every good striker does, was first to react and poked the rebound into an empty net.
The Phoenix threw everything at the Dragons in stoppage time especially with Sail, the Phoenix goalkeeper, having the final shot on goal but his header was straight at Tracey in which proved to be the last act of the game.
The Dragons now sit third after Southern and Team Wellington drew 0-0. We now host Auckland City next Saturday who currently boast a perfect record.
POINTS: Auckland City 36 (12), Eastern Suburbs 28 (13), Dragons 24 (13), Team Wellington 22 (12), Hamilton 16 (12), Southern 14 (12), Hawkes Bay 14 (12), Tasman 11 (13), Waitakere 10 (13) and Phoenix Reserves 3 (12)
Words – Supplied by Canterbury United/Mainland Football
Image Credit – Craig Morrison/Midfield Sport Photography