By HENRY MORABANG and GABRIEL LAHOC
NIUPETRO Fox registered their first win in the Telikom National Soccer League (NSL) challenge upsetting pre-match favourites Gelle Hills 2-0 at Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby on Saturday.
The victory was sweet for the Madang boys as they start round two of the NSL competition on a high note.
Madang have lost all their games except for a draw with Besta PNG United. This was their first win against the Central team.
It was the magic boots of two former East Sepik FC players in the Madang side in flashy striker Terence Bandi and flanker Rudolf Gule who found the net to bring back some lost pride for Madang.
Fox coach John Gringo just summed it up saying, two heads were better than one that produced the results.
Giringo said his assistant Bob Morris was calling the shots during the match to ensure they won the contest.
Morris said the biggest problem was match fitness.
“The boys lacked match fitness in their last matches which resulted in them losing to their opposition. We can play and score but cannot defend the goal due to match fitness which was the key factor behind their win against Gelle Hills,” he said.
Before kick off, both teams observed a minute silence in respect of the late Sir Kapi Natto who was a co-sponsor for Niupetro Fox.
In the opening match, Eastern Star finally got back in the winning circle after edging out Esiloan University InterFC 3-2.
In Lae, two weeks after they last set foot with him, Hekari United FC returned without their founder and father figure Sir Kapi, but crushed Gigira Laitepo Morobe 3-0 in front of an intimidating local crowd.
It was the visitors from Port Moresby who stole the show during the round two opener.
In the other match, Tukoko University Lae FC failed to get a victory for the home side only managing a penalty goal for a 1-1 draw against CMMS Tigers.
Hekari United, with their lanky forwards came back strongly in the second half, denying their opponents any chances of registering a win to settle a score after their first round loss.
After taking a week off following the death of Sir Kapi, the win was described as a hard one, but has cemented their lead on the ladder of the Telikom Cup National Soccer League (NSL) challenge.
All Hekari points were scored in the first half through striker Kema Jack while Fijian import Peter Bolaitoga, who was outstanding on the day, scored two to wrap up the match.
The visitors were more defensive in the second stanza, holding off a late fight back by Morobe, whose vocal supports were crying for at least a goal as the time was winding down.
“It was hard for us as a team, but this win is a tribute to the late Sir Kapi Natto,” team manager Vonnie Kapi Natto said.
Third-placed Morobe missed many golden opportunities, especially in the first half and the three goals against them was described by coach Max Foster as “silly mistakes” during the corner kicks taken by the competition leaders.
“We did not make use of our chances,” Foster said.
Except for one match, all other round two matches for Gigira Laitepo Morobe will be played in Lae.
The ladder is Hekari United 19, CMSS Tigers 17, Gigira Laitepo Morobe 15, Tukoko University 14, Esiloan University Inter 13, Gelle Hills 11, Eastern Star 11, Niupetro Fox 4 and PNG Besta United 2.