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Tafea FC and Hekari United share points on opening match day at OFC Women's Champions League

A penalty apiece in the opening match at the OFC Women's Champions League saw Tafea FC and Hekari United share the points in Honiara.

Two penalties in the first half ensured a share of the spoils, with Tafea FC also missing another spot kick in the second-half, forgoing the chance to take all three points.

Morning showers had eased by kick off, although the Honiara heat had set in at SIFF Academy, with neither side able to truly settle in to their rhythm in the opening stages.

The Hekari United attack, spearheaded by skipper Marie Kaipu, were quick to press the Vanuatu side early on and it was Kaipu who registered the game’s first attempt on goal in the 7th minute, although her shot-come cross was easily gathered by Tafea’s Nettie Kalsau.

The first real chance of the half came in the 18th minute, with Tafea rippling the wrong side of Hekari’s net after a swift counter attack - the Tafea bench momentarily convinced they had broken the deadlock.

Just under 20 minutes later, they did just that.

Tafea were awarded a penalty in the 37th minute after Diane Sine was brought down in the box. Jane Alatoa stepped up to take the spot kick, and rifled the ball past Fidelma Watpore to give her side a crucial lead.

Hekari renewed their urgency on attack, creating more chances. The pick of the bunch coming from Michaelyne Butubu’s cutback to Kaipu in space in the Tafea penalty area. She was quickly robbed of the ball however, and a swift Tafea counter attack almost saw the debutants double their lead through Sine, who narrowly shot wide.

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Hekari United's persistence paid off with a equaliser on the stroke of half-time, after Elma Aiviji caught Butubu with a stray boot in the box. Hekari midfielder Phylis Pala brought her side level again, with her spot kick sent just out of reach of Nettie Kalsau.

The sides remained unchanged when play resumed, with coaches Robert Calvo and Ericson Komeng both opting to persevere with their starting elevens.

Despite conceding at the end of the first half, Tafea started the second half the brighter of the two sides, looking to re-establish their lead.

The second half began similarly to how the first half ended: with a penalty, again won by Sine for Tafea FC, having been bunded over by Hekari defender Raynata Samuel after dancing down the left wing and cutting into Hekari’s penalty area.

Sine herself took the spot kick but was unable to restore her side’s lead, crashing her shot against the crossbar before the Hekari defence were able to scramble clear.

Hortance Kimit came close to putting Hekari in the lead for the first time in the match but Kalsau tipped her shot onto the crossbar and was able to quickly gather the rebound.

Ericson Komeng was the first to turn to his bench, bringing Anastasia Gunemba and Mavis Singara on for Nenny Elipas and Kimit respectively in the 65th minute. Robert Calvo followed suite two minutes later, replacing Rinneth Siri with Henriette Sangul.

Both sides continued to push, searching for what would have been a vital winning goal. Sine had a golden chance as the clock ticked over 90 but her lofted effort drifted agonisingly wide for Tafea.

Tafea FC: 1 (Jane ALATOA (P) 37’,)
Hekari United FC: 1 (Phylis PALA (P) 45+8’,)

HT: 1-1

© Scoop Media

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