Te Atatu AFC 2, Claudelands Rovers 6 (5-10 on aggregate)
Anderson Park, Auckland, March 9 2013
When I blogged about last week’s first leg of this promotion playoff I promised you that this week’s second leg would be a classic. Well, I wasn’t joking. With fifteen goals over two legs, this tie might have been a lot of things but dull wasn’t one of them.
To recap, Claudelands took a three goal lead into half time at Ngaruawahia last week. Te Atatu came storming back to tie it up at three all before Claudelands managed a fourth. That result meant the red team travelled up State Highway 1 this week with a one goal advantage, while the blue team brought three away goals to the party.
Both legs have been very open with attacking football the order of the day. You took your eyes off the action at your peril as there was action a plenty and missing something was all too easy. Today my major blunder was arriving about 60 seconds late to the match – tardy enough to miss the first goal. A massive cheer reached me on the street and let me know the error of my ways. Once inside the gates I learned that it had been Te Atatu who had levelled up the aggregate score and seized the advantage. They never held it again. Claudelands scored two early goals of their own in quick succession and in hindsight never really looked back.
A penalty right before the break saw the visitors restore the three goal lead they had held at half time in the first leg, only this time they weren’t about to let the advantage slip again even though there were still some shaky moments to come. Particularly in light of the fact that towards the end of the first half they had accumulated a few yellow cards. The game had that feeling about it where you knew they were unlikely to see out the match with all eleven players on the pitch but thankfully for them after the inevitable occurred, a Te Atatu player was also ejected before the resultant free kick could be taken for what seemed to be a very silly piece of backchat of some description.
Te Atatu managed to pull one back soon after to give us a gob full of déjà vu all over again but that was as close as they got this time.
Claudelands now go on to play Papakura next weekend in a one-off match to decide which one of them will grace Division 2 of the Northern Regional Football League this year. Meanwhile for Te Atatu it’s another season in the Northern Football Federation/Auckland Football Federation Conference, a competition they will be favourites to win and go on to win promotion the old fashioned way.
I for one certainly hope Claudelands manage to win through and replace Matamata with a fellow Waikato outfit. If they do, one thing’s for sure – opposing teams had better bring their a-game on defence. From what I’ve seen of Division 2, they’ll be ultra-competitive. They look younger and fitter than some of the other sides I have observed in the third tier and if they can plug a few holes they obviously have at the back, they will be very hard to stop. Of course, they still have the small matter of Papakura to get past first. Whatever happens though, they have already represented their region with distinction.
Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 2
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