Auckland City 5, Canterbury United 2
Kiwitea Street, Auckland, November 3 2012
Last week’s marathon of three live football games in two days was a lot of fun, but not sustainable long term. So this weekend a difficult choice had to be made. Once again there was a feast of great games on offer, two ASB Premiership openers that featured all four semi-finalists from last season in addition to the great local derby between Northern and Auckland in the National Women’s League. At Fred Taylor Park tomorrow, Waitakere United play Team Wellington in a repeat of last year’s ASB final. While at Kiwitea Street today, the two losing semi-finalists, Auckland City and Canterbury United went head to head. I’ve chopped and changed my mind several times over the last few days, but in the end heart won out over head and I went for the football ground with the best atmosphere – Kiwitea Street hands down.
It might sound a bit over the top but this really is one of my favourite places in the world to watch football. It’s obviously no Old Trafford or Camp Nou, it’s teensy tiny, but that’s what is so great about it. Where else in the world can you watch a top club in a country’s national football top flight from a seat that’s literally touching distance from the players? It’s small but intimate. In some parts, you are right on top of the game, looking almost straight down on it. In others you are so close you feel a part of the action. Combine that with the great little band of ever present ultras singing original witty songs (Yellow Fever eat your heart out) and what you get is a unique and thoroughly enjoyable football experience. If you haven’t been to Kiwitea Street before, here’s a small taste:
The other good reason to choose this game was the fact that going into last season’s playoffs, Canterbury United were the form team and looked like being the fairytale dark horse capable of winning the league. It wasn’t to be though. After winning the first leg of their semi-final against Waitakere United 1-0, they succumbed in the return leg 5-2.
Somewhat sadly, 5-2 seems to be a score line that is becoming an all too unfortunate habit. Today, City’s first two goals were both far too easy, stabbed in by Adam Dickinson from close range. Their third courtesy of a nice Chris Bale shot looked to have safely locked away the points before half time. Canterbury provided a glimmer of hope right before the break though with a messy goal line scramble that resulted in a lifeline for the visitors.
Early in the second half it looked as if we were heading for a grandstand finish as Canterbury won a penalty that looked a bit dubious to me. But there was nothing dubious about Aaron Clapham’s conversion. Calmly chipping it Andrea Pirlo style (who’s Panenka?) into the opposite side of the net to the flailing keeper Tamati Williams. As it caressed the old onion bag my first thought was that one goal fully justified my decision to come here! The excitement was short lived however as finishes by Albert Riera and Emiliano Tade respectively confirmed what we already knew. Auckland had always looked the better of the two sides, perhaps at least partly due to the benefits of their competitive outing in last week’s Charity Cup, a luxury Canterbury didn’t enjoy.
Although some of the defence was a bit shoddy, it was still a good game to watch. It won’t be until December before I’m able to get back to Kiwitea Street again so all things considered I’m glad I chose the home of Auckland football for this week’s football treat. I’m already looking forward to next week when I’m back in Wellington for the Phoenix game against the Central Coast Mariners. The Cake Tin might be a step down from Kiwitea in atmosphere, but it’s still a step up in the quality of the football! Can’t wait.
Categories: NZ Men's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.