By HENRY MORABANG
DEFENDING minor premier champions Hekari United showed they are head and shoulders about CMSS Tigers with a 6-2 win on Saturday at the Lloyd Robson Ovak in Port Moresby.
Hekari’s goals came from Alick Maemae (two), Kema Jack (two), Koriak Upaiga and Benjamin Mela.
Mela’s goal in the 20th minute was a stunner.
The Solomon Islands’ train-on squad member moved in to support midfielder Samuel Kini and his back-heel saw Mela let loose a stinger from 20m out which hit the back of the net.
The win gives the Tom Mana-coached side the minor premiership and passage to the 2010-11 O-League challenge for the third consecutive year.
Hekari’s victory has also thrown the remaining three positions for the top four wide open.
Fullback Upaiga opened the floodgates when he connected a cross from Pita Bolaitoga to tap the ball past Tigers’ keeper Anton Pipi. After Upaiga’s goal, Mela scored before his compatriot Maemae displayed his class when he drove a powerful right foot strike to beat Pipi for a 3-0 score at half time.
After the break Erikson Komeng set Maemae for his second before Jack made up for several missed chances to score the first of his double to extend the lead to 5-0.
Also in the running for the 2010 Golden Boot award, Jack collected his second after beating Tigers defence to race away with 6-0 lead.
With the game already in the bag, Tigers put on a brave face showing that they were still determined until the final whistle.
They continued their last minute raid which earned them a penalty just outside the box which veteran Sowera Guti slotted past Hekari goalkeeper Gure Gabina to bring the score to 6-1.
Tiger’s persistence paid off when tireless striker Raymond Gunemba scored the second goal for his team to bring some respectability back to the score.
In other NSL matches played in Lae Eastern Star came from a 3-2 deficit to beat Gigira Laitepo Moroboe FC 4-3 to march into the final four for the first time.
The silent achievers of the competition, the Milne Bay franchise could surprise other established franchises to play Hekari in the final if they are not careful.
In the other Lae match Esiloan University came from behind to force a 1-1 all draw against Tukoko University while in Madang, host Niupetro Fox out shone Besta United 3-0.
The competition ladder as of last weekend; Hekari 33, CMSS Tigers 23, Gigira Laitepo Morobe FC 21, , Eastern Star 21, Esiloan University 20, Tukoko University 20, Gelle Hills 15, Niupetro Fox 10 and Besta PNG 7.