Warkworth AFC 0, Claudelands Rovers 6
Shoesmith Reserve, Warkworth, May 26 2013
13-0, 14-0 – two of the winning margins Claudelands Rovers have run up this season against their peers in the Northern Women’s Premier competition. They’ve played six games in their league so far, and, with a game in hand, they sit second on the ladder with almost twice as many goals as the team that currently sits first. They average seven goals per game and have only conceded four all year. They are slightly slipping though. Last season they scored better than 8 goals per game, on average, on their way to the Northern Premier League title. Oh. And they made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Women’s Knockout Cup last season too.
On the other side of the tracks, Warkworth AFC sit exactly mid-table in the AFF/NFF Women’s conference division 2, two tiers below Claudelands. They have also played six games and in stark contrast to their visitors today, they’ve scored twelve goals and conceded ten so far this year. I’m guessing but I suspect when the draw was announced for today’s Women’s Knockout Cup tie, the average prediction of folks around the traps would have been something in the order of 20-0. I certainly turned up thinking I’d get to see a massacre. I thought wrong.
One of the downsides of seeding competitions like this and giving byes through to the later rounds to the top sides, as is done in many cups these days, is you miss out on some of the magic of cups. The Manchester United plays Kettering Town in a ground that only holds 1000 people type fixtures – the sort of match-ups that are exactly what make cup football so wonderful. Anyone can play anyone – and beat them.
There was no upset today but Warkworth can be justifiably extremely proud of this result, and in particular of their nothing short of heroic goalkeeper Fiona Mann. She pulled out save after top class, jaw dropping save as she was used as target practice by the accomplished Claudelands attack led by Football Ferns Sarah McLaughlin and Olivia Chance. Even more incredibly, this is her first season as a keeper, having converted from an outfield player for this season. I doubt she’ll want to go back any time soon after today’s effort. If it wasn’t for her it probably would have been a blood bath.
That shouldn’t be read as to take away from the rest of the Warkworth side though. They spent the vast bulk of the game pegged back in their own half but they all defended fantastically well. There were several times when the keeper was beaten and it was left to last ditch lunges from defenders to keep the ball out of the net. Urged on by their supporters, they combined to provide the neutral with a real cup experience. A top class team comes to play at the home of a dogged battler who grows an extra leg and goes out with their heads held high.
Claudelands did score six of course and the record shows a comprehensive victory by the Hamiltonians. But that didn’t stop Warkworth players celebrating like a win at full time. The smiles on their faces said it all. Football isn’t just about winning. Sometimes it’s about giving it your all, being the best you can be, and having a good time.
A few Warkworth locals have been giving me a bit of a hard time for ages about never having been to Shoesmith Reserve for a game. Today I got a bit of gentle ribbing asking when I’d come to a men’s game! Some people are never satisfied. My answer is this: I’ll get there one day very soon, but those blokes have a lot to live up to if they want to impress me more than their women’s side did today. So that’s my challenge back to them.
Categories: NZ Women's KO Cup
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.