Metro FC 1, Ngaruawahia United 1
Phyllis Street, Auckland, April 27 2013
It’s been too long since I’ve been to a game featuring my favourite New Zealand team, Ngaruawahia United, too long since I’ve covered a Northern Division 1 game, and too long since I’ve witnessed a thriller. All that changed today!
Ngara have been a minor revelation so far in their second year back at this level. Their new coach Joel Pinto and a raft of fresh international imports have led them to an unbeaten first five matches of 2013, which is outstanding even if only three of those results have been ticks in the win column. Particularly exciting has been new Uruguayan recruit Federico Marquez who has been scoring goals for fun, seven already going into this match. He’ll be well worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses to see if he can keep that pace throughout.
Meanwhile, Metro, ‘New Zealand’s Rossoneri’ as I was informed by their Twitter account today, (I told them I’d try not to hold the comparison with Berlusconi’s football team against them but it won’t be easy), went into this encounter with only a slightly inferior record to their visitors. However although their goals for column is looking reasonably healthy so far, at the other end they will be disappointed to have let in only two fewer than they’ve scored.
Given all of that, it promised to be a close match and this was a promise that wasn’t broken.
Metro started the stronger of the two sides and spent a fair amount of time in the Ngara half, but it was all a little bit laboured. There was a fair bit of scrappiness and possession squandered in the middle of the park from both sides, perhaps partly due to the fairly soggy pitch from all the rain we’ve had in the last week or so. Ngara seized the momentum on or around the half hour mark though, courtesy of a free kick floated into the box for Marquez to nod home to add his eighth for the season to the score sheet. From that point on the second half belonged to the visitors as they attacked with some fluidity and might well have increased their advantage. They didn’t though and their half time lead remained by the slenderest of margins as the two sides trudged into the sheds.
The Ngaruawahia brains trust didn’t wait until they got inside the changing rooms before beginning to analyse where they could improve as a fairly heated looking argument, about what it wasn’t clear, took place on the side-line right in front the bleachers. They continued to look frustrated in the second half too as the defenders and captain openly argued about some sloppy defending on several occasions. None of this inspired too much confidence.
Metro seemed buoyed and started to again look dangerous, launching several waves of attack, bouncing balls off the crossbar and taking pot-shots at the keeper from all around the penalty area. With ten minutes to go it looked to have all amounted to nothing though and Metro heads seemed to drop. They no longer looked to be playing with any urgency and appeared beaten for all money until referees time added on when all of a sudden they perked right up again and had two opportunities to score from point blank range – one somehow kept out by a miracle save from the keeper and the other headed off the line and over the bar by a Ngara defender. With less than thirty seconds to go however it was third time lucky… They celebrated like they’d won the World Cup and rightly so. A point thoroughly well earned by the home side and an exciting end to an interesting match for players and spectators alike.
It’s not the end of the world for Ngaruawahia, they remain unbeaten and if they work on their composure a little bit they could potentially be promotion contenders. Hopefully they prove to be so. It would be great to see another Waikato side in the Premier League!
Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.