A storming finish by Cambridge earned a 3-3 draw against Te Atatu in the Lotto NRFL second division clash at John Kerkhof Park.
Cambridge trailed the Aucklanders for most of the 90 minutes, had to play a third of the match with 10 men and were reduced to nine players late as referee Brett Willis brandished yellow cards aplenty in a feisty game.
The Reds took an early lead when striker Dylan Blair ghosted into the penalty area and was able to finish a pass across the face of the goal in the 9th minute.
The lead didn’t last long as Te Atatu scored twice in a three-minute spell.
First, Rannesh Krishnan found the net in the 14th minute and then Ryan Sabich cashed in on a defensive error to put the visitors ahead, scrambling the ball across the Cambridge line.
Krishnan increased Te Atatu’s lead with a well-taken goal in the 26th minute, coolly rounding ‘keeper Patrick Steele after clearing the Reds’ backline.
However, Cambridge reduced the deficit to 3-2 in the 38th minute when striker Wayne Teague scored his first goal for the club.
He won the ball just inside the visitors’ half, weaved his way towards the Te Atatu goal and then smashed it past ‘keeper Edward Trubshoe.
The second half fired up in the 55th minute when Teague collected a second yellow card, after fouling a Te Atatu defender, reducing the Reds to 10 men.
Being a man short seemed to spur on Cambridge and for the rest of the game, they had the better of ball possession and created the most chances.
The pressure finally paid off in the 76th minute when Blair scored his second for Cambridge, bringing the teams level at 3-3.
Cambridge mounted attack after attack in the final minutes but the game went flat almost on full-time when a melee led to referee Willis showing yellow cards to a number of players from both sides, including a second for Reds skipper Patrick Woodlock.
For Cambridge, the draw – and Northern League point – means new coach Paul Richardson remains unbeaten after two competition matches but facing a Queen’s Birthday Weekend fixture against high-flying Takapuna AFC without his captain and striker Teague, both of whom will be suspended.
Main photo: The 11th grade Cambridge Clarets lead the Reds onto the pitch for today’s game. The Clarets, who drew 4-4 with visiting Tahitian club AS Venus in the morning, were today’s mascots and ball boys.
Lotto NRFL results
Franklin United 1-2 Takapuna (HT: 1-1)
FRA: Rinal Prasad 33’; TAK: Ahmad Al-Shamsi 43’, Tommy Miller 59’
Northland 2-1 Onehunga Mangere Untied (HT: 2-0)
NOR: Thomas Fahey 6’, Finn Diamond 31’;OMU: Stefan Van Der Heijden 48’ (pen)
Metro 1-3 Papakura City (HT: 0-1)
MET: Pablo Yackson Carabajal 51’; PAP: Dan Haua 25’, Canaan Edwards 80’, Rajnesh Sharma 90+1’
Albany United 2-4 Claudelands (HT: 1-0)
ALB: Lee Robinson 44’, Andrew Mobberley 90’; CLA: Jacob Robb 46’, Jackson Houlihan 54’, Nik Finlay 72’, David Smith 73’
Bucklands Beach 3-1 Ngongotaha (HT 3-1)
BUC: Daniel Culpan 3’, Josh Smith 30’, Own Goal 44’; NGO: Harlem Simona 21’
Cambridge 3-3 Te Atatu (HT: 2-3)
CAM: Dylan Blair 9’, 76’, Wayne Teague 37’; TEA: Rannesh Krishnan 14’,26’, Ryan Sabich 17
The Cambridge reserves beat Te Atatu reserves 4-0 to remain top of their Lotto NRFL competition.