Mitch Miller, the hat trick hero

A hat-trick from Ngongotaha AFC’s returned striker Mitchell Miller saved a valuable point for his side on the weekend.

Ngongotaha drew 3 all against Claudelands Rovers at Galloway Park – with Miller scoring three goals in the second half after his team trailed 3-0 at half-time yesterday. The Villagers found themselves 2-0 down after half an hour with goals from Rovers’ players Dean Shaw and Ewan Bussey and Ngongotaha looked defeated just before half-time when Shaw doubled his tally for the home side.

But a stirring second half come back, led by front man Miller, who had been unavailable for selection since the first game of the season, secured Ngongotaha’s second draw in Northern League, Division 2.

“I’m stoked to be back on the score sheet again,” Miller said. “To be honest we could have been down by more goals at the break and we hadn’t created any clear cut chances.

We didn’t feel down at half-time though and we got stirred up in the chat – players and coaches had their say. It was good and whatever was said worked.”

After being brought down in the box shortly after the restart, Miller dusted himself off to smash the ball low into the right corner – sending the Rovers goalkeeper the wrong way to score his first goal of the season.

“It was a clear penalty,” said Miller. “It was really important to get a goal at that stage in the game because it lifted everyone.”

The renewed striker found the net again four minutes later – a simple tap in after a surging run and neat cross into the box by Ngongotaha’s attacking forward Alexis Pinto.

And Miller completed his hat-trick in the 90th minute after captain Eamon O’Donoghue set him up for another simple finish from close range.

Ngongotaha coach Shane Davis said a change of formation in the second half and a “wrong attitude” from Rovers changed the course of the match.

“The draw feels like a win,” he said. “From the start of the match we had a more defensive formation than usual and it really didn’t work. It’s not how we play. That changed at the break and I’m really proud of how we played after that.

“To me it seemed Claudelands came out with the wrong attitude in the second half – they were taking it easy. That just gave us even more of an opportunity to dominate and create chances. I think Claudelands learnt a lesson with the outcome.”

The result still leaves Ngongotaha bottom of the table but just one point behind Papatoetoe AFC with two games in hand.

It’s now a quick turn around for Ngongotaha who take on Mangere Utd, who lost 5-2 against Fencibles United at home on Saturday, at Stembridge Rd on Tuesday, kick-off 2.45pm.

“I probably won’t be changing up the formation,” admitted Davis. “We’re gunning for a win over Mangere and the spirit has certainly lifted in the squad.”

Story repoduced courtesy of Rotorua Daily Post and can also be viewed here.