By HENRY MORABANG
TUKOKO University Lae came close to recording their second win on the trot in the National Soccer League (NSL) but had to be content with a 1-1 draw after Eastern Star’s Andrew Marampau Jr hit a late equaliser in the round five clash in Port Moresby on Saturday.
In the early match, Esiloan University Inter held the pre-match favourite Gelle Hills to a scoreless draw in a football match marred by some uncharacteristic calls by central referee John Poris and his two assistant referees.
Some questionable refereeing decisions also prompted calls from NSL stakeholders to review the appointment procedures for referees in Port Moresby.
Tukoko University finally woke up with a strong performance on a lacklustre afternoon which surprised the Eastern Star outfit.
The game was more a teacher-versus-student contest from the coach’s bench with University coach Wopai Ziziga challenging Eastern Star FC’s Francis Moiyap.
Ziziga, a former PNG international, had a lot of input in Moiyap’s football career being the latters coach developing him to become a top striker in his heydays.
Both were player and coach with former Lahi champions, Sobou.
Luck was against Eastern Star who lost four key players in skipper and central midfielder Adrian Komu, left midfielder Simon Eleadona, right midfielder Godfrey Dobbin and striker Andy Barnabas through sickness and injury prior to this match.Star coach Moiyap admitted that there was no coordination in midfield which was the biggest let down to their sponsors and the fans.
University Lae capitalised on the weak and unorganized defence to score in the 37th minute. The goal came from the brilliant combination of experienced Solomon Island import Clifford Wate and Milne Bay striker Freddy Petelo that gave the Unitech-based team the much needed morale booster towards the end of the first half.
The Unitech-based team held the one goal lead going into the break.
In the second half, Eastern Stars came firing from all directions with Marampau Jr making his presence in the game felt with several purposeful touches.
Despite being warned with the yellow card, Marampau continued his fighting spirit to level the score in the dying stages. University had a winning chance disallowed while Eastern Star defended the equaliser until full time.
University Lae coach Ziziga said they have had shored up their defences which was positive sign to build on in the coming games.
The Stars trainer Milton Gori said he was satisfied with the draw.
“Our first choice midfielders were sick and had to come up with a makeshift team who did their best on the day,” he said.
In the other NSL matches play in Lae, CMSS Tigers came from 1-0 deficit midway through the opening half to romp home with a 4-2 victory at the final whistle over Best United while Gigira Laitepo Morobe taught Niupetro Fox boys some football lesson with a 3-0 hiding.
O-League players Hekari United had the bye.
The unofficial ladder after last weekend; CMSS Tigers 11, Gelle Hills 10, Hekari 9, Gigira Laitepo 9, Tukoko University 6, Esiloan University 2, Niupetro 1 and Besta PNG 0.