The National- Monday, January 24, 2011
By RIGGO NANGAN
PORT MORESBY’S O-League champions, Hekari United, flew into Lae only to be humbled by Lae’s Gigira Laitepo, 1-0 in front of a packed Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium in round two of the Telikom National Soccer League on Saturday afternoon.
The Port Moresby lads looked set to bag a win when they had the encounter in their control displaying flashy football skills from the beginning.
Flanker Ian Yanum had a busy day setting up midfielders Samuel Kini, Erickson Komeng and Mathias Apo, to pepper the Gigira goalmouth.
Gigira goalkeeper, Paskal Gogadi was required to make numerous saves and managed to fend off the onslaught.
In one instance the home crowd released a collective sigh when a 30m long-ranger by Hekari flanker Neil Hans sailed just centimetres above the cross bar after a fully stretched Gogadi managed to get a finger tip to the ball.
Hekari came close through Hans in the 25th minute but he came off second best in a collision with Gigira’s Rodney Talai with referee Albert Eka calling a halt to the action while the players recieved attention.
Sensing an upset in the offing Gigira kept the heat on the Hekari’s offence with inspired defence to go to the break 0-0.
Gigira skipper Koroba Tawa played a captian’s knock leading by example and marshalling Gigira at every turn.
Sammy Hiob, Eliude Fugre, Armstrong Peka, Valentine Nelson and Bruce Kusunan also had strong games.
Buoyed by the halftime pep talk and hearten by the home crowd, the Lae boys took the field in the second half with energy and purpose.
The Port Moresby boys looked all business when the whistle set off the second half.
Their control again the highlight but Gigira played beyond themselves to stay in the game.
Hekari defenders Alwin Singh and Koriak Upaiga’s fortress-like defence looked impenetrable goalkeeper Godfrey Baniau was more than a match for Gigira’s best efforts.
The tussle stayed in the balance as the clock wound down and a scoreless draw was becoming a real possibility.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 68th when Gigira’s George Gani, sent the ball over into the box which Baniau attempted to secure but was met head on by Gigira flanker, Russell Nirik.
In the following melee, Nirik managed to knee the ball past Baniau, who was several mnetres outside his goal.
Baniau could only look as the ball rolled into the Hekari goal sparking wild celebrations from the Lae crowd.
Hekari wasted now time trying to get the equaliser in a despatare bid to avoid the upset but Gigira defended their lead admirably to stave off the resurgent reds.
In the other matches, Lae Besta Under 20’s beat Madang Fox 5-2, while Tukoko University drew with Petro Souths 0-0.