By HENRY MORABANG
MIDFIELDER Ramona Padio played an inspirational role to help Papua New Guinea notch their second win of the OFC Under-19 Women’s Championship 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand yesterday.
The West New Britain lass scored two goals and set up another in a come-from-behind win over Tonga at Ngahue Reserve.
Using her experience as a member of the PNG senior women’s team, the 19-year old played a key role in directing traffic from the middle of the park.
The match played in the chilly conditions saw both teams struggling in the opening quarter.
Tonga scored first through Mele Kafa who broke through the PNG defence and smashed the ball into the back of the net after a quick counter attack to take a lead 1-0.
After some strong words from the bench, the PNG women lifted their intensity but keeping their game plan while building pressure in the Tonga half.
Padio tested the Tongan goal with a long range effort that flew over the cross bar but the message had been sent – PNG were shifting to a higher gear.
Padio set up PNG’s reply minutes later with a through ball that saw Selina Unamba levelling the scores.
Striker Nicollete Ageva had the chance to increase her championship tally in the 36th minute but was ruled off-side.
This did not deter PNG as they kept up the pressure as Tonga’s bigger players started to slow down.
Padio featured again seizing on a deflection off the Tonga goalkeeper to fire a powerful volley to push her side to a 2-1 lead which they took to the break.
In the second half, Padio slotted her second goal four minutes into the frame after an exciting lead-up which had the Tongans out on their feet – and PNG took an unassailable 3-1 lead.
Coach Rachel Wadunah made a tactical substitution bringing on Melisa Jofari on for Unamba to bolster PNG’s offence.
PNG captain Margret Joseph put her body on the line and was booked for her commitment after colliding with Halaunga Taholo.
PNG controlled the remainder of the fixture with Padio laying on a goal-scoring chance for Ageva who obliged by slamming the ball into the back of the net to increase their lead to 4-1.
PNG have won their last two matches after going down to New Zealand in the tournament opener.
PNG 4 (Selina Unamba, Ramona Padio 2, Nicollete Ageva gaols) Tonga 1 (MeleKafa goal). H/T: 2-1 (PNG)
Fixtures: Fri, July 21 – 1000 New Zealand v Samoa; 1230 Tonga v New Caledonia; 1500 Fiji v PNG.
By HENRY MORABANG